Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 5, Cubs 0: A rejuvenated A.J. Burnett came into a Wrigley Field with the wind blowing in from center against a Cubs team hours off of a significant selloff and tossed a one-hitter. Oh, and Neil Walker drove in all five Pirates runs.

Rays 8, Athletics 0: James Shields pitched a very relieved “oh man I wasn’t traded at the deadline” kind of game (CG SHO, 3 H, 11K).

Phillies 8, Nationals 0: Cliff Lee pitched a very relieved “oh man I wasn’t traded at the deadline” kind of game too (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7K).  I guess you could say the same about Juan Pierre too, who went 3 for 5. Stephen Strasburg was roughed up (4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER).

Angels 6, Rangers 2: Albert Pujols hit two homers and Mike Trout added one of his own. The Rangers are 7-9 since the break and the Angels are in the process of sending them a message.

Braves 7, Marlins 1: Meanwhile, the Braves have won seventh straight, are 13-5 since the break and move to within two and a half of Washington. This despite weird stuff like starting Kris Medlen for the first time in two years and using Jair Jurrjens out of the pen. Brian McCann continues the hot streak he kicked off just before the break.

Royals 8, Indians 3: I had this game on as background noise in the living room and the kids started watching it. When Derek Lowe was pitching, my daughter Mookie said “he looks older than the other players.” I said “Well, he is. He’s 39. In fact, he’s a month and a half older than I am.” She thought about this for a minute and said “wow, then he is really old.” So of course when she said that I hoped Lowe would reach down for a great performance and teach my rude little girl a lesson. Nope. Got shelled. This after I explained to her that the Royals were no good. The lesson she took away was that 39 is old as dust and one becomes feeble against even the most minor challenges at that age. Can’t decide if I’m more mad at my daughter, Lowe or the state of the universe for all of this.

Giants 4, Mets 1: News Flash: Tim Lincecum did not suck for once. One run allowed over seven innings. His last out: striking out David Wright with the bases loaded in the seventh. Tough loss for rookie Matt Harvey who pitched well but was victimized by some bad defense.

Diamondbacks 8, Dodgers 2: Arizona is making noise, beat the Dodgers again, and is turning what looked like a two-team race may become a three-team race in the NL West. Wade Miley was sharp and he was backed by homers from Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero.

Mariners 7, Blue Jays 2: Nobody say anything, but the Mariners have won six in a row. And this is fun:

While Wedge explained his pleasure with Jason Vargas’ strong start, shortstop Brendan Ryan was being doused with ketchup and beer in the shower by his teammates. The team was celebrating Ryan’s three-hit night that pushed his batting average over .200 for the first time since April 21 …

Ketchup?

Cardinals 11, Rockies 6: Matt Holliday drove in four. And continues to be a superstar no one really talks about that much. Just the most ho-hum .320/.404/.543 season I can remember in a while. He’s gonna hit 30 home runs and drive in 110 and most people won’t bat an eye.

Brewers 10, Astros 1: If you’re a Brewers fan, a ten-run explosion is nice. The fact that, after the bullpen came in it didn’t end up 10-8 with runners on the corners with no one out at some point is probably even better.

White Sox 4, Twins 3: Odd to see Francisco Liriano facing the Twins. He didn’t seem to mind, though (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8K).

Reds 7, Padres 6: Homer Bailey blew a 6-0 lead to which he was staked, but the bullpen restored order and Brandon Phillips hit a homer in the seventh to break it.

Red Sox 4, Tigers 1: The Tigers loaded the bases with the go-ahead run at the plate in the sixth inning, but then the rains came and action was never resumed. Mother Nature gets the save. Josh Beckett left early with back spasms and was booed by his home fans, so that was classy.  The Tigers have dropped five of six.

Orioles 11, Yankees 5: New York jumped out to a five-run lead in the first and then watched the Orioles score seven runs in the second and 11 unanswered overall. Chris Davis had the go-ahead grand slam. Ugly night for the Bombers.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
Associated Press
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.