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.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.