Dusty Baker, Brandon Phillips

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

56 Comments

Reds 12, Indians 5: One in a bunch of lopsided Thursday games. Brandon Phillips simply abuses Indians pitching as a rule and he did so again yesterday, driving in four. And he likes it too. He said after the game: “Deep down, it feels good to beat up on the Tribe.” Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 21. The Reds sweep the Indians for the first time in four years. They are so close to claiming victory in the Battle of Ohio. And to the victor goes the spoils!  Soon the Reds will dine on the finest bologna and Velveeta the Buckeye State has to offer and the streets of Columbus, Lima and Akron will flow with the blood of the non-believers!

Cardinals 5, White Sox 3: Adam Dunn tied Josh Hamilton for the MLB lead in homers with his 22nd bomb. He’s on pace for 57 homers and 255 strikeouts. His average is .227 yet his OPS is .940. Dude is too weird to live, too rare to die. Sure, the Cardinals won, but that’s a mere detail. We’re in the business of building this donkey’s legend here, friend.

Mets 9, Rays 6: Johan Santana was less-than-sharp, but the Mets sweep the Rays behind two homers from Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Jason Bay added one too. That’s something considering he’s on a “hey, good for you!” basis for doing anything more than falling over these days.

Tigers 5, Cubs 3: Detroit wins its second straight over Chicago and Justin Verlander notches a win for the first time in a month. Most notable, however: just how thoroughly Detroit fans took over Wrigley Field in this series. It was basically a home game for the Tigers. Someone in Chicago had better come up with some sort of “Cubsitude” campaign. Or something.

Orioles 12, Pirates 6: Baltimore unloads on former mate Erik Bedard for their biggest offensive night of the season. Steve Pearce homered and drove in five. Matt Wieters drove in five and did it without even hitting a homer. The O’s were up 10-0 before the Pirates got a run. Just a shellacking.

Athletics 8, Rockies 2: Oakland has one of the worst offenses in the game but leaves Colorado having scored 26 runs in a three-game sweep. Meanwhile, Jarrod Parker allowed only three hits over seven scoreless innings. The Rockies are simply cratering.

Phillies 6, Twins 1: Know what Charlie Manuel needed? A night when he didn’t have to call on that freak show bullpen of his. And Joe Blanton gave it to him. Blanton threw a complete game, allowing one run on seven hits. Jim Thome hit a three-run bomb because he is Jim Thome and all he does is mash taters.

Royals 4, Brewers 3: For the second night in a row the Royals got to the back end of Milwaukee’s bullpen. Though really, this isn’t all on John Axford. He struck out the first man he faced but strike three was a wild pitch, allowing him to reach (note: like 75% of wild pitches seem to come on balls the catcher should at least knock down and passed balls are rarely called these days). The winning run scored on a dumb decision by shortstop Edwin Maysonet, who cut off a throw from the outfield in an effort to get the batter which allowed the lead runner to come around and score.

Diamondbacks 11, Rangers 3: Arizona salvages one and breaks out of a run scoring drought to do it. Daniel Hudson struck out seven in seven innings, rebounding from a nightmare start his last time out.

Astros 6, Giants 3: It was an extremely Barry Zito third inning, as he walked the bases loaded and then allowed a grand slam to J.D. Martinez. Brandon Belt hit his third homer in as many games. It’s gonna be extra fun when Bruce Bochy comes up with an excuse to bench him next time. I’m gonna go with “those homers are rally-killers” or some variation on that theme.

Padres 6, Mariners 2: The sweep. Edinson Volquez allowed one run and four hits while pitching into the seventh. Overall, Padres starters basically shut down the M’s lineup. Good for them and all, but I hope the pitching doesn’t continue to be good. Because I’ll be at the Padres-Rangers game with my kids on Monday night and if anyone takes a no-hitter late, I can totally see my kids being all like “can we GO?” At which point I’ll put them up for adoption.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Getty Images
9 Comments

Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
18 Comments

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
5 Comments

The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
26 Comments

In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.