Jay Bruce

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Reds 1, Phillies 0: CONTINUED FROM TUESDAY NIGHT: Nine minutes, a quick score and then the whole thing was over. About as good a night as you coulda hoped for when you were 17, but for the Phillies this had to be disappointing.

Reds 11, Phillies 2: Well, maybe not as disappointing as this. The Reds complete their first sweep of Philly in 17 years. John Lannan was pummeled. So too was the rest of the Phillies pitchers. Heck, Mike Leake had three hits including a triple. The Phillies only scored four runs in the series.

Royals 1, Braves 0: I was tempted to say that Doug Eddings and Wade Davis combined on a shutout, but that’s just petty I suppose. There were A LOT of bad ball and strike calls, sure. But watching Dan Uggla swing at everything from the dirt to the bill of his cap in the ninth inning made me think, well, some days it’s just not your day. Game’s lone RBI goes to Jeff Francouer. Which I presume will lead to some Francouer fans down in Georgia to start up that “we never shoulda gotten rid of him” chatter they’re prone to down there. Doesn’t matter who’s in the Braves’ outfield. There’s always a group of dead-enders who pine for Jeffy.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 0: A.J. Burnett allowed one hit, taking the no-no into the seventh. He also notched his 2,000th career strikeout.  Not a bad night for Shelby Miller either, but tough luck is part of the game, yo.

Nationals 6, Marlins 1: Bryce Harper went 4 for 5 and Ross Detwiler allowed only one run in seven innings. And the Marlins went back to remembering that they are, in fact, the Marlins.

White Sox 7, Blue Jays 0: Jose Quintana tamed the Jays. Tyler Flowers hit a three-run homer. Old friend Alex Rios hit one too.

Rays 6, Orioles 2: Tampa Bay snaps its four-game losing streak. Matt Moore got the win. He has three on the season. The entire Rays team has five.

Red Sox 6, Indians 3: Five straight wins for the Bosox. Alfredo Aceves, pressed into service as a starter, took a shutout into the sixth, but then he hit a wall. After three solid starts Justin Masterson hit a wall of his own, surrendering 11 hits.

Yankees 4, Diamondbacks 3: Down 3-0 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees tied it up and then Travis Hafner hit a pinch-hit homer in the eighth to cap off a four-run rally. New York has won seven of eight, which is really messing with a lot of predictions of doom out there. Pretty inconsiderate, you guys.

Athletics 7, Astros 5: Six runs in the first was a less than gracious homecoming for Marin County’s Bud Norris, but such is life for the Astros. Meanwhile, the A’s have played approximately 193 games against Houston so far this year. I think it’s time they move up a level.

Padres 7, Dodgers 2: Clayton Kershaw gave up three homers in three innings. Because baseball. Even the best ones get rocked on random Wednesday nights.

Tigers 2, Mariners 1: 14 innings. Batters combined for 14 strikeouts. Prince Fielder led the pack with five. The only runs in the game scored on a couple of fielder’s choices and an RBI single. But there was some goodness here in the starting pitching. Indeed, it’s a shame neither starter could win this one, with Max Scherzer striking out 12 while allowing only one run in eight innings and Felix Hernandez striking out 12 while allowing only an unearned run in his eight.

Brewers 4, Giants 3: Pinch hitter Blake Lalli — who has a name that I’d sooner place on some actress in her early 20s who stars in some new show that is decidedly not aimed at my demographic — hit the first pitch he saw for the game-winning single in the ninth. Runners hit second and third just before that thanks to a Brandon Crawford throwing error.

Angels vs. Twins: POSTPONED: Three, four: Hey mr. rain. Ain’t you follow me down. Hey mr. rain. Ain’t you follow me down. I’ve been working baby oh! so hard. Stayin up in the sky. Hey mr. rain. Ain’t you follow me down

Rangers vs. Cubs: POSTPONED: See the sky about to rain, broken clouds and rain. Locomotive, pull the train, whistle blowing through my brain. Signals curling on an open plain, rolling down the track again. See the sky about to rain.

Mets vs. Rockies: POSTPONED: Dreamed I was an eskimo. Frozen wind began to blow. Under my boots and around my toes. The frost that bit the ground below. It was a hundred degrees below zero…

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]