Derek Norris

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I’m back after a week’s vacation. I wrote up a long sappy version of it last week, but here’s the short version: San Diego for five days, during which I took Mookie and Carlo to their first ever major league game to see the Rangers vs. the Padres last Monday night. It was a doubly troubling game.

First the Padres — who we decided to root for that night — lost, which was a bummer. Worse: Jason Marquis pitched really well, which has fooled Carlo into thinking Jason Marquis is a superstar. Really, he has not shut up about Jason Marquis for a week. Those two things aside it was a great game. Both of the kids made it through all nine innings, cheered when appropriate, yelled at umpires when appropriate and ate the living crap out of ballpark food.

Back in Ohio late last week, I spent the weekend in Cincinnati with the girlfriend and road-tripping-from-New York- friend Katie for Friday and Saturday’s Reds-Twins games. The games themselves were mixed bags, but the trip was an outrageous success because we got Sean Casey Bobbleheads, fried Kool-Aid and hot dogs with carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and sriracha sauce. All of those things are, in reality, way better than the descriptions sound.

In any event, the trip is over. I greatly appreciate all of you doing the reader contribution And That Happends last week, but as of now democracy has been suspended and we shall revert back to our usual benevolent dictatorship as far as recaps go. Unless you don’t want this stuff anymore and would prefer that we just post scores, in which case I’ll just start sleeping in more. Anyway:

Athletics 4, Giants 3: Two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the home team down 2-1 and up steps Derek Norris to slam a three-run walkoff blast. It was his first ever homer, too, so most of them are going to be a letdown after this. We should call such things “Stone Roses home runs” or “M. Night Shyamalan home runs” or something.

Padres 2, Mariners 0: The Pads found out that bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds died of cancer before the game. Then four pitchers went out and combined for a shutout. That’s a freaking tribute.

Rays 3, Phillies 2: Rays 7, Phillies 3: Cole Hamels shut the Rays out for seven innings in the first game, was lifted for Antonio Bastardo in the eighth and Bastardo walked two dudes and then gave up a homer to Carlos Pena. After the game Charlie Manuel was asked about putting in Bastardo and responded by, more or less, saying they really don’t have anyone better. And he’s right. In the nightcap Brooks Conrad hit two two-run doubles. Cliff Lee was beaten up and still has no wins. Right around the time the second game was ending, I saw this on Twitter, which is about perfect:

Yankees 6, Mets 5: On vacation and only paying vague attention to what was going on in baseball, and even I got the sense that the R.A.   Dickey vs. the Yankees hype had gotten too big. Yes, he’s having a fantastic year, but it was silly to assume he’d be able to keep up the earned-run-free streak going forever. The Yankees got to him for five last night, though the Mets fought back to get him off the hook for the loss. Robinson Cano’s eighth inning homer broke the 5-5 tie and ended up winning it for the Yankees.

Astros 7, Indians 1: Derek Lowe’s reversion to late-period Derek Lowedom continues apace, with the Indians’ starter losing again. His ERA for June: 6.44. Chris Johnson went 3 for 4 with three RBI and a homer. The Astros take the series.

Tigers 3, Pirates 2: A complete game for Justin Verlander, who gave up only five hits, though one of them was a two-run homer. After the game he said he “didn’t feel particularly great.” Guys who struggle just to make it through five innings probably love hearing that sort of thing.

Angels 5, Dodgers 3: The Angels have won 13 of 18 from the Dodgers. They’re getting so bored with this “rivalry” that they’re letting punchless dudes like Peter Bourjos hit two-run homers.

Cardinals 11, Royals 8: St. Louis scored 30 runs on 41 hits in this three game series. It was the biggest beating Missouri has seen since the Centralia Massacre. Oooh … sorry. Too soon?

Marlins 9, Blue Jays 0: The Feesh end a six-game skid. Mark Buehrle’s win makes him the winningest pitcher in interleague history. Which, based on the way some of you feel about interleague play, is sort of like being the top Edsel salesman of 1959.

Twins 4, Reds 3: Figures the one game of this series that I didn’t see in person was the most exciting. Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman in the top of the ninth to bring the Twins back from a 3-2 deficit. Chapman is in a major funk, going 0-4 with three blown saves and an 11.37 ERA in his last seven games. This slide started at almost the exact time the heat started to die down regarding his encounters with the bunco squad. To get back to relief ace form, Chapman clearly must start some new scams and grifts.

White Sox 1, Brewers 0: Eduardo Escobar pinch-hit for Brent Lillibridge in the tenth inning, got the walkoff hit and then Lillibridge got traded to Boston. Then on the way to Boston Lillibridge was bumped from his flight and while waiting for the next one, some dude snaked his seat at the gate. But it wasn’t all bad: this kid cried his eyes out when he learned that Lillibridge was traded away. Really.

Orioles 2, Nationals 1: The O’s are in an offensive funk, but Matt Wieters’ two-run homer was all they needed. Baltimore took two of three from the Nats.

Red Sox 9, Braves 4: Cody Ross hit two homers and drove in five. Kevin Youkilis’ last game with the Red Sox ended with a triple in the seventh and a standing ovation when he was lifted for a pinch runner. The Braves have lost nine of 13.

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 1: The Snakes sweep the Cubs behind Wade Miley’s eight innings of one-run ball. Justin Upton drove in three.

Rangers 4, Rockies 2: Matt Harrison got the win and pitched five scoreless, but he had to leave early due to tightness in his lower back.

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)
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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)
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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)
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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.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.