Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 3, Marlins 0:  Kris Medlen continues his astounding second half, shutting out the Marlins for eight innings. The Braves have won his last 21 starts, which is the most any team has won any one pitcher’s starts since the Yankees and Whitey Ford from 1950-53. Is there any doubt who will be starting the wild card game for the Braves?

Brewers 3, Pirates 1: Nietzsche once said that hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man. That kind of describes the Pirates season as they sink to .500 and look to sink farther still.  After how much hope there was in the middle of the summer, is this season’s now-likely less-than-.500 finish more depressing than the last 20? Kinda feels like it. Meanwhile, Marco Estrada has been like Kris Medlen north. He improves to 4-1 with a 1..23 ERA in his last six starts.

Phillies 3, Mets 2: Ryan Howard drove in the tying and winning runs with a two-run bomb in the ninth off Josh Edgin. Who is a left hander.  Meaning that Ryan Howard actually got a hit off a left hander. Is this real life?

Rays 13, Red Sox 3: A shame that a team can’t spread its runs over multiple games, because the nine extra ones here woulda helped the Rays elsewhere. The Red Sox used four pitchers in the sixth inning who walked six batters as the Rays scored seven runs.

Nationals 3, Dodgers 1Dodgers 7, Nationals 6: Day game: Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run over six innings and the bats eked out a couple of runs on sac flies and groundouts. In the nightcap, L.A. blew a 6-0 lead in the eighth but Matt Kemp hit a homer in the ninth to win it. And since everyone made a big deal out of it when he pitched well, it’s worth noting that Stephen Strasburg’s stand-in John Lannan pitched here too and gave up six runs on eight hits in three and two-thirds.

Royals 3, White Sox 0: The AL Central leaders were shut out by Bruce Chen for six and two-thirds. Meanwhile …

Tigers 6, Athletics 2: Detroit beats the A’s again, with yet another homer from Miguel Cabrera.  Bad news for Oakland, though, as the lose Brett Anderson, who strained his oblique. That’s a big, big blow. Third straight loss for the A’s, who need to find a way to survive this road trip of death lest the Angels knock down the door.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2; Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1: Andy Pettitte came back and pitched effectively in game one and Ichiro had seven hits across both games of the doubleheader to pace the Bombers.  Derek Jeter got his 200th hit of the season to lead off the nightcap.

Cardinals 5, Astros 0: Lance Lynn has his second straight excellent start since coming back to the rotation. Maybe he just needed some time to clear his head.

Twins 6, Indians 4: Josh Willingham continues his outstanding year, smacking his 35th homer and driving in four. Those 35 bombs are the most any Minnesota Twin player has had since Harmon Killebrew hit 41 in 1970.

Rangers 6, Angels 2: Reader Lewp was so kind to me that he recapped this one himself for me and sent it in:

Rangers top Halos with pair of three-run frames

No Josh Hamilton. No Adrian Beltre. No worries.

Missing their big guns, the Rangers were faced with the challenge on Wednesday night of replacing 75 home runs and 216 RBIs. They didn’t bat an eye.

Thanks, Lewp!  Four game lead in the division for Texas. And no, it doesn’t look like the Angels are knocking down any doors.

Giants 7, Rockies 1: Matt Cain went eight and won his 15th. Pablo Sandoval homered. Seems like the Rockies stopped playing two months ago.

Orioles 3, Mariners 1: Another extra innings game, another win for Baltimore.  And don’t look to dumb luck here, look to (a) Adam Jones hitting a two-run homer in the 11th to once again bring home to Seattle how bad that trade was for them; and (b) look to dumb Mariners. Michael Saunders, specifically, who ended the game by getting caught stealing second when there were runners on the corners in the bottom of the 11th. Good effort, dude.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 2: Weird passage from the AP game story: “The Diamondbacks are .500 since they were 64-64 on August 26.” I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be significant or not. Then again, the AP was confusing me a  lot yesterday. In my general news AP feed, the 10th story listed in the daily top ten was “Ben Vereen files for divorce.”  I’m not even sure if that was news in the 70s.  Heck, I wasn’t even sure Ben Vereen was still alive. Then I remembered, nope, it was Flip Wilson who was dead.

Reds 6, Cubs 5: Drew Stubbs hit an RBI single in the 11th after Brandon Phillips reached second on a popup that David DeJesus misplayed. The Reds played without Dusty Baker, who was in the hospital for an irregular heartbeat.  More on that later this morning on HBT.

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.