And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I looked at the schedule as I sat down to write this and noted that, even including the postponed game, there were only 14 games yesterday. Rays-A’s played Thursday-Saturday, leaving yesterday off to avoid conflicts with the Republican National Convention. Guess you couldn’t expect the RNC to compromise, so …

Anyway, it was weird and disorienting to see less than a full slate of games. Only thirteen thanks to the rain in Baltimore. Oh wells:

Phillies 4, Nationals 1: The sweep. With Cliff Lee pitching like Cliff Lee is supposed to pitch. Everyone’s having a lard at the Phillies season in the wilderness, but I think folks are gonna be in for a surprise next year when everyone’s healthy and they have Hamels/Lee/Halladay and a couple of good bats. It ain’t perfect, no, but that more than plays in the NL.

Brewers 7, Pirates 0: You hear that Mr. Hurdle?… That is the sound of inevitability… It is the sound of your death… Goodbye, Mr. Hurdle…

Braves 7, Giants 1: Tim Hudson allowed one over seven innings and, while it wasn’t an awful start, Tim Lincecum looked quite mortal allowing three over five. Back to back homers by Heyward and Freeman in the ninth were unnecessary piling on.

Cardinals 8, Reds 2: Four hits and four RBI for Matt Holliday, who has to be a part of the MVP conversation. Allen Craig homered and drove in three. The Cardinals are heating up. They’ve past the Pirates and, while still six back of the Reds, are looking dangerous.

Yankees 4, Indians 2: Curtis Granderson hit his 200th home run. Of all time, not in the game or the season, because those would be records. New York took two of three from lowly Cleveland, giving them a bit of breathing room over the Rays, who are four back.

Tigers 5, Angels 2: Back to back homers in the sixth by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young. Max Scherzer continued his recent good run, striking out nine in seven innings and winning his 14th. Mike Trout had a bad series. I note it only because I think it’s the first bad series he’s had all year.

Cubs 5, Rockies 0: Chris Volstad got his first win since, I think, the Carter administration. The game ended early due to rain. Gonna level with you: i’m having a hard time thinking about a Cubs game in Chicago, guys. For reasons that are best left unexplored but which have something to do with my girlfriend, I started watching that old TBS show “My Boys” over the weekend. The one with the female lead who covers the Cubs and has all the male friends and — based on two or three episodes anyway — looks like it’s gonna be some inside-out “Sex and the City” thing, albeit somewhat smarter. Upshot: the chick is pretty good looking, but all I keep thinking is how the people who really cover the Cubs look like Paul Sullivan. I can only suspend my disbelief so much, folks.  Oh, and I want the main character’s apartment.

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 4: Seven game winning streak for the Friars. They have swept the Diamondbacks in Arizona twice this year. A  three-man umpire crew officiated the game after crew chief Tim Tschida was scratched due to “personal medical reasons.” With the caveat that I will take this joke back if it turns out to actually be serious, I’m gonna assume he’s suffering from Little Donnie’s Disease.

Red Sox 8, Royals 6:  Pedro Ciriaco had three hits, scored twice and drove in two. James Loney had an RBI single. Wondering how long until the new car smell wears off the new look Sox and everyone starts to realize that, just because some guys no one likes are gone, the team isn’t any more fun to watch and certainly isn’t better.

Twins 6, Rangers 5: You can’t stop Ben Revere, you can only hope to contain him. Four hits for him, as the Twins broke a five-game losing streak.

Marlins 6, Dodgers 2: Four homers for the Marlins. Three in three games for Giancarlo Stanton. He had eight homers during the Marlins’ 11-game road trip.

Mets 2, Astros 1: Offensively, it was all Ike Davis, as he accounted for both Mets runs with homers, including the walkoff. Lucas Duda gunned a would-be runner out at home in the ninth to keep the game tied at 1.

White Sox 4, Mariners 3: Like the Cubs game, this one was called early — after seven — due to rain. Tyler Flowers’ game-winning homer came in just under the wire.

Blue Jays vs. Orioles: POSTPONED: As a man I ain’t never been much for sunny days. I’m as calm as a fruit stand in New York and maybe as strange. But when the color goes out of my eyes, it’s usually the change.  But damn Sam I love a woman that rains.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.