Miguel Cabrera

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 12, Athletics 2: Lose your starter after two innings? No problem. Because the Tigers have a Hulk. Miguel Cabrera hit two homers and drove in six, starting the A’s hella road trip off in poor fashion.

Reds 3, Cubs 1: Homer Bailey took a two-hit shutout into the eighth over what was likely some very tired Cubs. Cincy’s magic number is four.

White Sox 3, Royals 2: Five straight wins for Chicago. And a rare win against the Royals, relatively speaking. Really: the defining characteristic of the 2012 AL Central is the leaders not taking care of business against the cupcakes.

Marlins 4, Braves 3: Atlanta rallied for three in the ninth to force extras, but Jose Reyes’ two-run single in the 10th won it. The Braves are already have a gimpy Andrelton Simmons, and now they’ve lost Paul Janish, who dislocated his shoulder in this one. PLAY CHIPPER AT SHORT, FREDI! LET HIM LEAVE THIS GAME THE SAME WAY HE CAME IN.

Cardinals 4, Astros 1:  Kyle Lohse threw seven scoreless innings. See, Philly, this is how you beat a bad, bad team that you’re supposed to beat in order to stay in the wild card race.

Brewers 6, Pirates 0: Yovani Gallardo won his eighth straight decision over the listless Pirates. Wait, that’s not right. They have list. A strong list to starboard, not unlike the Lusitania just before she went down.

Twins 6, Indians 5: The battle for fourth place has become heated! The Indians used ten pitchers, by the way. Including David Huff, who only pitched for a minute and a huff. This is just barely identifiable as real baseball at this point.

Red Sox 7, Rays 5: Looking at the schedule back in April and I bet you though this series would matter. Oh well. Fourth straight loss for the Rays and seventh of eight.

Orioles 4, Mariners 2: Let’s play two! Or at least two games worth of baseball. Eighteen innings ended, effectively anyway, with a Taylor Teagarden RBI single and yet another Orioles’ extra-inning win.  Thanks to the Yankees being off for two straight days, the O’s have moved into a virtual tie for first.

Giants 6, Rockies 3: Six and a third scoreless innings with six strikeouts for Tim Lincecum. If he’s right come playoff time, lookout National League.

Diamondbacks 3, Padres 2: After dropping six straight to the Padres at home, the Dbacks finally prevail thanks to a strong Ian Kennedy start. They lost Chris Young again, however, who aggravated his quad injury. Which stinks.

Angels 11, Rangers 3: An eight-run fourth inning helped seal a necessary win for Anaheim, who keeps pace with Baltimore, remaining three back in the wild card. They need some help, though. Jered Weaver won his 100th career game.

Phillies vs. Mets: POSTPONED: Been down to the corner, about once or twice. I don’t know but it’s been nice. I ain’t got no money, I can’t buy a damn thing that I might like. Let’s go down to the dime store on some moonless night and look at the rain.

Dodgers vs. Nationals: POSTPONED: And if you see us on the corner and we’re dancing in the rain. I join my friends there when I see them outside my window pane. Shadows in the rain, shadows in the rain.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees: POSTPONED: This one goes out to Yunel Escobar:

Humidity is rising – Barometer’s getting low
According to all sources, the street’s the place to go
Cause tonight for the first time
Just about half-past ten
For the first time in history
It’s gonna start raining men.

It’s Raining Men! Hallelujah! – It’s Raining Men! Amen!
I’m gonna go out to run and let myself get
Absolutely soaking wet!
It’s Raining Men! Hallelujah!
It’s Raining Men! Every Specimen!
Tall, blonde, dark and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean

Joe Blanton signs with the Nationals

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Joe Blanton #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on June 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
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Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals have signed Joe Blanton to a one-year contract.

Surprised it took this long given that Blanton was excellent out of the pen for the Dodgers last year, posting a 2.48 ERA and 80/26 K/BB ratio over 80 innings. But even if it’s a late signing, it’s not a terrible one: Blanton will receive a $4 million salary and will have the chance to make an additional $1 million in performance bonuses. UPDATE: The salary structure is kind of odd. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports that Blanton will get only $1 million in 2017, plus some incentives, and will have $1 million deferred to 2018 and $2 million deferred to 2019.

And he got two weeks off work. Bonus!

Baseball doesn’t need gimmicks to draw in young fans. It just needs to be baseball.

MESA, AZ - MARCH 6: Chicago Cubs ball and bat bags are seen prior to the game between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds on March 6, 2015 at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. The Reds defeated the Cubs 5-2. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
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MESA, AZ — I didn’t set out to ask Robin Mitchell about pace of play, rules changes, how to best execute an intentional walk or how to turn kids into baseball fans. I was interviewing her about other stuff. She brought those topics up on her own.

“I heard them saying that they were not going to throw four pitches for intentional walks anymore,” Mitchell said. “I’d prefer that they throw the pitches because anything can happen. There can be wild pitches. And that’s the exciting part of baseball. That you don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t think we need to speed the game along.”

For most baseball fans such sentiments are tied up with a devotion to baseball purism, tradition or their distaste for change. But such is not the case for Mitchell. While the lifelong Chicago resident went to Cubs games as a child, baseball has not been a lifelong obsession. Rather, it’s something she has become reacquainted with via her two baseball-obsessed boys, Jake, 11, and Bennett, 9.

Mitchell and her boys live on the north side of Chicago and, over the past two years, her sons have developed a huge affinity for the Cubs, almost by osmosis. It was certainly a good time for it, as the Cubs have become winners, and Mitchell allows that since Jake and Bennett didn’t “have to suffer through some of the more challenging times,” their attraction to the game became easier. It’s clear to her, however, that they are not going to be fair weather fans.

“They love baseball,” she said, implying that it’s not just homerism for the current World Series champions at work. They love the sport itself and began to play it too. It’s not easy for Mitchell to say whether their playing led to their fandom or vice-versa. It all sort of happened at once, with each reinforcing the other.

I asked her what about baseball, specifically, appeals to them. What, at a time when Rob Manfred and everyone connected to the game is worried about the sport’s seeming inability to attract and hold on to young fans, keeps Mitchell’s sons engaged.

For them, it seems to be all about accessibility and engagement. Being in Chicago and living close to a park is important, as is having all of the games available on TV. Also important to them: appealing young stars.

“It helps that the Cubs have some really nice players who seem like really nice guys,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes we see them in the neighborhood even. Ben Zobrist. Anthony Rizzo. David Ross. Whenever we’ve seen them out or at an event they’re always kind and polite and give the boys encouraging words.”

But isn’t baseball . . . boring? And slow? Don’t kids like video games and kinetic action? Doesn’t a 19th century pastime with a sometimes turgid pace turn off 21st century kids?

“No, are you kidding?!” Mitchell said. “We don’t leave the game before it’s over. That’s what we do. It doesn’t matter what the score is. We love the pace of baseball. In the world of electronics, with everything moving really fast and being gimmicky, there’s something I think that my boys and I find appealing about baseball. I can share it with them and we all just slow down.”

As we talked, Jake and Bennett ran around a field just outside the Cubs clubhouse, playing catch and practicing rundowns with a couple of other boys they just met. Mitchell and I spoke for nearly a half hour. They played the whole time and looked like they wouldn’t stop unless or until their mother dragged them away.

We have spent a lot of time lately talking about how to fix baseball. I don’t know that anyone has made a compelling case that, despite the challenges the game faces, it is actually broken. Robin Mitchell doesn’t think it is. Neither do Jake and Bennett. While Rob Manfred and Joe Torre propose increasingly unorthodox methods for speeding things up, some pretty basic and longstanding factors are continuing to attract young fans:

  • The availability of games almost every day;
  • An exciting and successful local team;
  • The charisma of baseball’s biggest stars;
  • The ability for kids to play the game themselves and to emulate those stars on a little league field; and
  • The chance for parents to share their love of baseball with their children.

These are the factors which have always made up baseball’s appeal. Perhaps Major League Baseball should concentrate on ensuring that those factors, which are proven to draw in fans, persist and flourish. Perhaps they should concentrate less on chasing hypothetical fans via gimmicks aimed at fixing problems which are far-from-established.