St Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Brewers 8, Braves 2; Phillies 3, Marlins 1; Padres 3, Cardinals 2: Um, yeah, this keeps happening. The Cardinals, beneficiaries of an epic collapse by the Braves last year are themselves collapsing. And Philly and Milwaukee look like they’ll never lose again.  Just insanity in the NL wild card race these days. It’s kinda great. Well, unless you’re a Cardinals fan. And really, the Braves shouldn’t be too smug in the first wild card slot either. The way they’ve been scuffling offensively lately, they look primed to be bounced in a one game playoff.

Orioles 3, Rays 2: Walkoff hit from Nate McLouth that was technically a single, and a pretty kickass play from Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy. Smell that? Smells like … destiny.

Yankees 5, Red Sox 4: The Yankees hold on, however, despite almost blowing a 5-1 lead and despite losing Derek Jeter to a bone bruise in his ankle. If it’s any consolation, the Orioles seem to keep getting better after injuries to key players, so maybe the Yankees will eventually too. Um, OK, maybe not. Trying to look on the bright side of things here people.

Tigers 8, White Sox 6: Detroit had an 8-1 lead in the eighth and almost woofed it away, but they held on. A Prince Fielder three-run homer gave them some breathing room early. The Tigers are now only one game back of the Chisox.

Nationals 2, Mets 0: See, I TOLD you it would be disaster for the Nats to sit Strasburg! See what happened?! John Lannan goes out there filling in for Strasburg and … um, what?  Five and two-thirds shutout innings?  Um, OK, as you were.  (But seriously; call me when it’s not the Mets).

Rangers 5, Indians 2: Homers from Beltre and Hamilton! Injuries to Beltre and Hamilton! Ambivalence and creeping dread among the Rangers fan base!

Reds 2, Pirates 1: Pittsburgh is still a half game up on the surging Phillies and Brewers and a mere two and a half behind St. Louis, but I wouldn’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys for their playoff chances. Would you?

Mariners 3, Blue Jays 2: Miguel Olivo hit a home run, Kevin Millwood won his second straight start and Rickey Romero loses his 13th straight decision. It’s like it was Improbability Night at Rogers Centre.

Cubs 5, Astros 1: A scary moment for Mickey Storey, as a comebacker got him in the face. Initial reports are that the injuries are minor, but as we’ve learned this past week, initial reports should not be taken at face value when it comes to people being hit in the head with baseballs.

Royals 10, Twins 5: Country Breakfast drove in three and Salvador Perez smacked a homer.

Athletics 4, Angels 1: After getting swept by the Angels last week, after facing a seven game road trip against the frisky Mariners and the these same Angels and after losing one of their pitchers to a freaking skull fracture, everyone expected the A’s fairytale season to end. Nope. The A’s keep rolling, winning their sixth in a row.  Their schedule ahead remains brutal — they finish the season with one more against the Angels in this series today and then face the Orioles, Tigers, Yankees, Rangers, Mariners and then the Rangers once again — but man this has been astounding to see.

Giants 8, Rockies 3: Tim Lincecum provided a workmanlike six innnings, allowing three runs, which for 2012 Tim Lincecum is pretty darn good. Three hits for Marco Scutaro, who has turned out to be a fantastic pickup for the Giants. Their lead in the west is now seven.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2: Like Pittsburgh, they’re in it if you look at the standings, but they’re not in it if you look into your heart. They’ve lost six of seven and remain only a game out of the wild card, but really, where is the sunshine here? What about their play lately gives anyone any confidence that they can turn this around? Serious question.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.