And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 7, Dodgers 3: Jordany Valdespin with a walkoff grand slam. See, good things happen when he doesn’t try to bunt.

Reds 1, Cubs 0: Mat Latos tossed seven shutout innings and Broxton and Chapman finished it off. Tough luck for Jeff Samardzija who struck out eight in six innings, but he’s gonna have to get used to tough luck pitching for these Cubs.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: The first extra innings loss for Baltimore in over a year. That covered 17 instances of free baseball. Oh well, luck comes and goes. Well, maybe it wasn’t luck: the winning run came when Jim Johnson walked Maicer Izturis with the bases loaded, but still.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 2: The sweep. Stephen Strasburg had a rough first inning, but then he settled down and kept his team in the game, only to watch as Washington whiffed and ran its way out of a couple of would-be rallies. Strasburg’s record now stands at 1-4.

White Sox 3, Indians 2: Alex Rios hit a two-run homer to help the Chisox earn a split. I’m not sure who let Zach McAllister leave the Columbus, Ohio he and I are so accustomed to, but he walked five and allowed five hits in five and two-thirds innings. Come back home, Zach. We’ll go get some  paella at Barcelona and then some Jeni’s ice cream, maybe, and we’ll never make you lave Franklin County again.

Rockies 6, Braves 5: I left for an early dinner reservation just as Fredi Gonzalez sent Jordan Schafer home on a botched squeeze play while up 5-3 and one out in the ninth. I figure that Gonzalez was tired of seeing the Braves hit the ball all over the ballpark without any of his own input and felt like he had to justify his existence by managing the hell out of that little situation.  If he had let Coors Field’s nature take its course I’m guessing one of the next two batters could have or would have hit the ball in the air to score Schafer anyway, the game wouldn’t have been tied after nine and the Rockies would not have been able to mount this comeback win.  And yes, if you think this is just some long distraction enabling me to overlook the fact that Craig Kimbrel coughed up two runs in the ninth, well, you’re right.

Astros 10, Mariners 3: Baseball has 162 games and rarely does any one game matter or even mean anything all that much. But dudes, you just got scorched by the Astros. Three homers for Houston, who have four wins against Seattle in six meetings this year. They’ve only won seven overall.

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2: Brandon Crawford his a homer in the ninth to tie it, but Arizona won it on a sac fly and is now 5-0 in extra innings games this year. The new Orioles or something.

Red Sox 6, Athletics 5: David Ortiz had two hits and an RBI. Stephen Drew hit an RBI triple. Boston has won nine of 12. Oh, and they sent Alfredo Aceves down to Pawtucket after this one, so it’s like a total exorcism of that 13-0 loss the other night.

Tigers 7, Royals 5: Jose Valverde comes back and gets a save on his first try out. Victor Martinez drove in two. Welcome to 2011.

Rays 3, Yankees 0: Alex Cobb was dominant (8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K), allowing only three singles. Not sure what beat writers do in games like this when there’s really only one thing to talk about. I only have to write, like, three or four sentences. They have a whole story to fill. Maybe they can just CTRL-V “Alex Cobb” over and over again like the restaurant scene in “Being John Malkovich” or something.

Pirates 5, Phillies 3: Roy Halladay allowed only one hit and struck out eight in six innings and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley hit big booming homers. That used to mean an easy Philly win, but we’re a long way from 2010. Brandon Inge came and hit a pinch hit RBI single to tie it in the eighth because of course he did. Then Starling Marte tripled in a run in the ninth as part of a four-run Philly bullpen failure.

Rangers 11, Angels 3: Texas with a nine-run fourth inning put this one away pretty early. Nelson Cruz with a three-run homer. Lance Berkman drove in four. Yu Darvish wins the Run Support Award for the night. The pitchers in the Angels part of the box score look like a list of names from the witness protection program.

Padres 2, Brewers 1: I suppose Milwaukee had to lose eventually. I didn’t think Edinson Volquez would go seven innings without walking anyone eventually, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.