And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

16 Comments

Holy moley, an awful lot of big news happened overnight. Ramirez a Dodger? Cole Hamels almost remaining with Philly? There were even some games!

Athletics 7, Blue Jays 2: The A’s are streaking. That’s six in a row. Derek Norris hit a two-run homer and Yoenis Cespedes drove in three with a single. The A’s success at this juncture of the season is almost as surprising as me learning that the late Sherman Hemsley was into 1970s prog rock and LSD and was all kinds of crazy and different than you’d imagine. Seriously. I have no idea how to process this information. It was bad enough when I realized yesterday that he was younger than I am now when “The Jeffersons” premiered.

Phillies 7, Brewers 6: The second straight day the Phillies rip the Brewers’ hearts out. Or the Brewers choked their guts out. Depends on your point of view. Zack Greinke was fantastic for seven innings, allowing one run and even hitting a homer of his own.  But then the bullpen came in, giving the Phillies a six-run eight inning. Milwaukee: trade Zack Greinke because you’re out of it and you need to get something for him. But also trade him out of basic human compassion.

Cardinals 8, Dodgers 2: The Dodgers stopped streaking as Clayton Kershaw was rocked for eight runs in five and two-thirds. Adam Wainwright [all together now] helped his own cause with an RBI double and taking a walk with the bases loaded.

White Sox 11, Twins 4: Adam Dunn went 3 for 5 with a double a homer and drove in four. Josh Willingham hit two bombs but that’s all the Twins could muster.

Reds 4, Astros 2: What a depressing night for the Astros. First they trade away one of their last bona fide major leaguers in Wandy Rodriguez and then they go and blow a one-run lead in the ninth. Will the last person remaining in Minute Maid Park turn out the lights?

Braves 4, Marlins 3: Jason Heyward hit a sac fly and later singled home Martin Prado to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh. After a shaky start Tim Hudson was solid, retiring the last 16 batters he faced. I suppose now that they’re selling off players that it’s worth watching to see when the Marlins have officially given up on the field.

Red Sox 2, Rangers 1: Clay Buchholz gave the Red Sox a much needed solid start, allowing one run over seven. He didn’t get the win — Vicente Padilla got that when Mike Aviles broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the ninth — but the Sox needed that kind of outing from a starter.

Nationals 5, Mets 2: R.A. Dickey’s 11-game winning streak is over, though he did strike out Bryce Harper three times, which was fun. Gio Gonzalez notched his 13th win to match Dickey, pitching his longest game in two months.

Indians 3, Tigers 2:  The Indians are 6-1 against the Tigers this year. Too bad they can’t play ’em all season long.

Cubs 5, Pirates 1: Paul Maholm is en fuego. He won his fifth straight start, beating his old team which had been rumored to maybe want to trade for him again before snagging Wandy Rodriguez. Maholm has allowed just four earned runs in 38 and a third innings in that winning streak.

Rays 4, Orioles 1: In contrast to good streaks like Maholm’s and good streaks ending like Dickey’s, Jeremy Hellickson has had a bad streak: he had’t gotten a win in nine straight starts.  Well, that changed last night. He gave up one run and three hits in six and a third and didn’t walk anyone.

Mariners 4, Yankees 2: Bad night for A-Rod. His 2000th career strikeout followed by a broken hand. Oh, and since he was in Seattle, he was booed mercilessly. Splendid.

Giants 3, Padres 2: Angel Pagan may have made the play of the year to end the eighth and then Brandon Crawford delivered the game-winning hit in the ninth. Pablo Sandoval left the game after three innings with a left hamstring strain while stretching for a ball at first base.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 2: Five straight wins for Arizona. Joe Saunders allowed only three hits and a walk over seven innings while striking out nine.

Royals 4, Angels 1: Will Smith shut down the Angels. Later today several hack headline writers and highlight show anchors will be fined $100 each for saying he “got jiggy with it.”

The Mets are a mess

Al Bello/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Mets lost again on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Braves. It’s their sixth consecutive loss and the club is now in last place in the NL East. Not exactly the start the Mets envisioned.

Matt Harvey got the start, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on five hits and five walks with only one strikeout. After the game, Harvey said he was tight and that he threw yesterday expecting to start on Friday instead, per Matt Ehalt of The Record. Sounds like no one communicated to Harvey that he’d be starting this afternoon until it was too late for him to properly prepare.

Harvey started because Noah Syndergaard was scratched due to a “tired arm.” Syndergaard blew reporters off after the game, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma then added that Syndergaard ripped Mets P.R. guy Jay Horwitz for letting reporters approach him.

By the way, the Mets also lost outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a hamstring injury. Not much else can go wrong in Queens.

Joey Votto isn’t on board with the latest fly ball trend among hitters

Dylan Buell/Getty Images
1 Comment

If you haven’t heard, fly balls — not ground balls or line drives — are all the rage among hitters these days. Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez summed it up perfectly last month when he said, “I’m not trying to hit a [freaking] line drive or a freaking ground ball.” The goal is to maximize damage. Last year, for example, fly balls became hits about 17 percent less often than ground balls (7.4% versus 24.6%), but hitters had a slugging percentage more than twice as much as on ground balls (.539 versus .267). This refocusing has helped hitters like Martinez as well as Ryan Zimmerman reinvigorate their careers.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is as much a student of new age analytics as anyone in the game, doesn’t feel that this approach is necessarily a good one, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto said:

Where I get concerned is the guys that make this attempt and burn out too much of their time and don’t get a chance to be their best selves, and either don’t make it to the big leagues or don’t perform their best in the big leagues because they’re always attempting this new style of hitting. I see it with a lot of guys. Everyone tells the good stories, but there’s a lot of s—ty stories of guys who are wasting their time trying things.

Votto added that while the fly ball approach is working right now, pitchers will soon adapt and the fly ball approach won’t be so good anymore. And he’s right. Baseball has always been a game of adjustments. For example, as teams have gotten comfortable with shifting their infield, hitters like the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber have both dropped bunts down the third base line for easy hits. Knowing that hitters are aiming to hit fly balls now, pitchers may stay higher in the strike zone more often as one possible solution.

Votto is just trying to stay as well-rounded as possible. He says that he wants to become “unpitchable.” Votto wants to be like Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whom he describes as a guy “who can do absolutely anything he wants” and “at all times [has] all options.”

So far, Votto is having another productive season despite a relatively pedestrian batting average and on-base percentage. He’s hitting .238/.330/.563 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 94 plate appearances. Coincidentally, he’s been hitting way more fly balls than usual as he’s currently carrying a 42.3 percent rate compared to his 33.1 career average, according to FanGraphs. His line drives are way down to 16.9 percent compared to his 25.4 percent career average.