And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 6, Mets 1: Ben Sheets emerges from the restorative chemical waters of the Lazarus Pits to throw six shutout innings against the Mets. Too bad this series is over. I heard the Braves were going to run Rich Harden out there tonight and maybe Mark Prior on Tuesday to see if the Mets are just as prone to zombies then as they were yesterday afternoon.

Nationals 4, Marlins 0: Stephen Strasburg put up a Ben Sheetsian performance, throwing six shutout innings. Meanwhile, Ozzie Guillen becomes just the latest person who should know better trying to intimidate Bryce Harper. And once again, Harper refuses to take the idiot’s bait. At some point are people gonna just let the kid play instead of making themselves look stupid?

Angels 10, Yankees 8: A-Rod popped out with the bases loaded to end the game. I’m sure no one’s gonna talk about this in the papers or on the radio today. Or the fact that, in defending him, Brian Cashman called him “above average.” I mean, that’s a few ticks above Vance Law, right? Approaching Richie Hebner almost, yes? Ah, I’m just stirring poop. A-Rod did hit a homer and had another hit. And if the Yankees had figured out a way to keep the Angels from scoring a ten spot, he wouldn’t have had to be the hero in the ninth. Or if, you know, he hadn’t gotten thrown out at home earlier. Oh well. Moving right along …

Brewers 4, Pirates 1Yovani Gallardo struck out 14 while allowing one run over seven innings. People have been asking me if I think the Pirates are for real. I say that they’re not until they can prove that they have a big boy offense. Because as of now, they have the worst on base percentage in the National League.

Cubs 3, Diamondbacks 1: Matt Garza threw seven shutout innings a day after Ryan Dempster kept his scoreless streak alive. As far as trade deadline showcasing, Jed Hoyer could not be any happier if he tried.

Athletics 9, Twins 4: Yoenis Cespedes went 4 for 5 with a homer and three driven in. Don’t look now, but the A’s are three games over .500 and are only a half game out of a wild card spot. But the same caveat I applied to the Pirates applies to them: gotta get on base at a greater than .300 clip to truly stay in it, I reckon.

Phillies 5, Rockies 1: Cole Hamels pitched brilliantly, giving the Phillies their first series win since the last time they played the Rockies. Now, if they can just figure out how to play the Rockies all the time, they may be in business.

Rangers 4, Mariners 0: Matt Harrison threw a five hit shutout. He only struck out three and walked four, suggesting that the Mariners had no idea what they were doing at the plate.

White Sox 2, Royals 1: Chris Sale allowed ten hits, but he only gave up one run in eight innings. Since I was being pessimistic about the Pirates and A’s, let’s keep that up and note that Sale has now thrown 110 innings and is on pace to break 200. His annual innings pitched totals as a pro, majors and minors combined: 2010: 33.2; 2011: 71.0.  If he tires — and there is a lot of reason to think he might — the Sox may find themselves in some pitching trouble.

Red Sox 7, Rays 3: Remember back before James Shields died? Nah, me neither. Shields (5 IP, 11 H, 6 ER) was killed again, and the Rays weren’t able to take advantage of a pretty sick Josh Beckett. As in actually ill, not sick meaning impressive, as the cool children often say.

Tigers 4, Orioles 0: Apparently Justin Verlander took the blue pill, preferring not to stay in rabbit-hole filled Wonderland that he experienced during the All-Star Game. The Tigers’ ace struck out eight shutout innings.

Giants 3, Astros 2: Houston has lost 13 in a row on the road. And usually people are better off when they leave Houston. Huh.

Blue Jays 3, Indians 0: Carlos Villanueva walked five dudes, but he avoided danger by allowing only three hits and striking out eight.

Padres 7, Dodgers 2: Chris Capuano ran out of gas and the Padres beat up on him and the pen.

Reds 4, Cardinals 2: Does it make me a bad baseball fan to admit that I watched the “Breaking Bad” premiere and not this game? Nah, didn’t think so. In any event, Aroldis Chapman is the one who knocks.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.