San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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We have reached the All-Star break. Which means that this is the last And That Happened for a week. Unless there’s a temporal anomaly or something, which has been known to happen …

Pirates 13, Giants 2: Andrew McCutchen was added to the Home Run Derby the other day. He got some early practice yesterday, smacking two dingers. If there is any justice in the world, the All-Star Game will introduce this guy to a lot of casual fans who have no freakin’ idea that one of the best players in baseball is a Pittsburgh Pirate. Also: more Tim LOLcecum.

Cubs 7, Mets 0: Ryan Dempster came off the DL and picked up right where he left off: keeping the opposition scoreless. With five innings of shutout ball here — they’re taking it easy on him to preserve his trade value, er, I’m sorry, I mean his health — he runs his streak to 27 straight innings.

Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 1: Here come the Diamondbacks. They took three of four from L.A. to move to within four games. Trevor Bauer was way more efficient in his third big league start and wound up throwing six scoreless. I guess it’s easier to pound the strike zone when you know the other team doesn’t have anyone who can make you pay for it if you miss.

Reds 4, Padres 2: A road trip that started pretty crappily — it’s an adverb; look it up — ended much betterly for the Reds, as they took three straight from the Padres to keep pace with the Pirates in the central.

Athletics 2, Mariners 1: Walkoff RBI double for Josh Reddick in the 13th. Probably a good time for people who don’t follow Oakland closely to acknowledge that (a) Reddick, who has 20 jacks in the first half, is pretty darn good; and (b) Oakland is at .500 at the break, which no one would have guessed before the season started. Sure, they’re still in third place which is where everyone guessed they’d be, but it’s a much more respectable, enjoyable-to-watch third place than predicted.

Angels 6, Orioles 0: A spot start for Brad “not the manager of the Astros” Mills and all he does is throw five shutout innings and get homers from Trout, Pujols, Trumbo and Aybar for support. Gee, pitching is easy!

Cardinals 5, Marlins 4: You’re not gonna believe this, but Heath Bell poured kerosene on a ninth inning. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Blue Jays 11, White Sox 9: The Chisox lose their five game winning streak after the Jays launch four homers. Worse: White Sox pitchers walked nine.

Brewers 5, Astros 3: Zack Greinke started on Saturday,  on Sunday and will get the first start after the All-Star break, making him the first dude to start three of his team’s games since 1917. He lost the first one and was saved in the second despite only going three innings. Maybe he’ll actually stick around for the fourth inning in his third go-around.

Tigers 7, Royals 1: The sweep for Detroit. Delmon Young has homered in four straight games. Maybe the Tigers are finally turning the corner. I know people say that every time they win a couple of games, but eventually you figure it’ll be true.

Braves 4, Phillies 3: The Braves sweep the reeling Phillies. Like Delmon Young, Brian McCann has homered in four straight. And maybe like the Tigers, the Braves’ four-game winning streak is a sign that their sluggishness is nearing an end. Philly, in contrast, has lost 10 of 11.

Rockies 4, Nationals 3: Washington was up 3-1 entering the eighth against the lowly Rockies. That’s usually a win, but Sean Burnett gave up two runs in the eighth with the help of a Mike Gonzalez wild pitch and Tyler Clippard sealed the deal in the ninth.

Rays 7, Indians 6: Another blown save, this one from Chris Perez. That breaks a string of 24 straight for him, dating back to his last blown save on Opening Day. Ben Zobrist’s RBI single was the final blow.

Yankees 7, Red Sox 3: Andruw Jones lookes at Brian McCann and Delmon Young’s four homers in four games and says “meh.” Jones has four homers in three games. The Yanks take three of four from the Sox and show them who remains the beast of the east.

Rangers 4, Twins 3: Minnesota blows a 3-0 lead in the ninth. Total team effort there thanks to a throwing error by Brian Dozier and Glen Perkins being as hitable as a pitching machine. Michael Young delivered the tying run with an RBI single and Ian Kinsler drove in the winner in the 13th.

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.