And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 9, Cardinals 0: Two homers for Russell Martin and a strong start from Jeff Locke. The Pirates — the Pittsburgh Pirates — are in first place in the National League Central. This goes with the Royals being in first place in the AL Central. I predicted each of these teams would be better this year. Maybe even surprisingly good compared to usual expectations. But I figured that meant the Pirates finishing a smidge above .500 and the Royals making third place. Second if absolutely everything went right maybe. That may be where each of them end up, but for now they gotta be enjoying the ride.  This was the Pirates’ 15th win. They last won 15 in the month of April in 1992.

Marlins 6, Cubs 4: Giancarlo Stanton hadn’t hit a homer all year until Saturday, then he launched two homers yesterday. He was just giving everyone a head start I guess.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2: For years Blue Jays fans — and often Blue Jays employees — whined how it was so darn hard for them to break through in the AL East given the expensive star power the Yankees were able to assemble. Yesterday the star-laden Blue Jays got swept behind homers from Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay. What’s the excuse now?

Reds 5, Nationals 2: Once my daughter found some random baseball trivia/facts website for kids and learned about the drop-the-third-strike rule which enables a struck out batter to go to first base. She thought this was quite rare and esoteric and asked me how a pitcher could strike out four batters in one inning, thinking she’d stump me. I gave her a bunch of dumb answers like “the batter distracts the umpire” or “the umpire is cheating” or “gamblers fixed the game.” I pretended to be all exasperated with her and INSISTED that there can’t POSSIBLY be a way for a pitcher to strike out four batters in an inning because EVERYONE knows that there are only three outs in an inning and a strikeout is an out. Later I admitted that I knew the rule and that I was just having fun with her. To this day she thinks I was lying and that I really didn’t know the rule and she’s the one who taught me. Guess I’ll let her have that one. Anyway, Tony Cingrani struck out 11, including four in one inning. Because he was cheating, I assume.

Red Sox 6, Astros 1: John Lackey had one more tuneup against minor leaguers yesterday. Looks like he’ll be set for his return from the disabled list Thursday versus the Twins. He’s really gotta be looking forward to that.

Phillies 5, Mets 1: Carlos Ruiz came back, Ryan Howard — who has driven in ten runs in his past five games — came off the bench to deliver an RBI double and Cole Hamels got his first win of the season as the Phillies sweep the Mets. Hamels walked six dudes and the Mets didn’t really make him pay for it. Man.

Rays 8, White Sox 3: David Price finally gets his first win of the year. And got into a big bunch of controversy with umpire Tom Hallion, too. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that, even if Hallion was 100% in the wrong here, MLB will do nothing to him publicly because, as history has shown us, umps can pretty much get away with murder. In other news, White Sox hitters struck out 12 times in all and Alex Rios allowed two runs to score when a catchable ball doinked off his mitt. Not a great day on the south side.

Dodgers 2, Brewers 0: Clayton Kershaw is a ridiculously good pitcher (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 12K). Carl Crawford joins Russell Martin and Giancarlo Stanton in the two homers on Sunday club.

Padres 6, Giants 4: The reigning world champs are swept by San Diego. It’s the first time the Pads did that in about three years. Chase Headley had three hits including a dinger.

Twins 5, Rangers 0: Kevin Correia shut out the Rangers for eight innings. Just junked ’em to death. It’s the first time Texas has lost two games in a row all year.

Royals 9, Indians 0; Indians 10 Royals 3: According to the AP gamer, this was the first day-night doubleheader in the history of Kauffman Stadium. That’s pretty surprising. Anyway, without looking at the box score for the first game, I’m gonna assume that it was a forfeit. [looks]. OK, wasn’t a forfeit. But I do love how forfeits go in the books as a 9-0 win. I’m sure someone like Neyer or Mark Armour or Bill James or whoever knows why that is, but I don’t. Jeremy Guthrie got the win. He hasn’t had a loss in 16 starts. That’s something.  In the nightcap Mike Aviles had five RBI.  Good for him.

Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 2: The loss of the game was bad, but the loss of Troy Tulowitzki to a strained shoulder was worse for the Rockies. The Dbacks take three of four and have won five of six overall.

Athletics 9, Orioles 8: Yoenis Cespedes gets activated and then hits a two-run homer to tie it in the ninth inning. In the tenth, Manny Machado — who had four hits on the day, by the way — threw the ball away on a sacrifice attempt, allowing the winning run to score. Welp.

Mariners 2, Angels 1: Jason Bay and Michael Morse homer. And the Angels keep pace with the Blue Jays in the Most Disappointing Team in All of Baseball race.

Tigers 8, Braves 3: What a blah of a series for the Braves. Wait — I think they just struck out again. And … again. God.

 

Reds to extend protective netting at Great American Ball Park

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The Reds announced on Thursday that the protective netting at Great American Ball Park will be extended to the end of each dugout in time for Opening Day next season. The press release notes that the current netting meets Major League Baseball’s guidelines and the new netting will go beyond those standards.

The netting “debate” came back on Wednesday when a young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have done about the bare minimum in installing protective netting, which rightly earned them criticism. Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius each said yesterday that the netting should be extended. Other teams and Major League Baseball in general received criticism. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, for example, said the relative lack of action on MLB’s part is “morally repugnant.”

Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that the Reds had already had this idea prior to Wednesday’s incident at Yankee Stadium.

Orioles don’t intend to trade Manny Machado this offseason

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become eligible for free agency after the 2018 season and is likely to get a windfall. The club, however, isn’t expected to pursue trading their star at the hot corner this offseason, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Machado, 25, has been one of baseball’s best players since debuting in 2012. He had a slow start to the 2017 season, seeing his OPS nearly drop below .700 in early July, but a strong second half has made his overall numbers more than respectable. Machado is batting .264/.318/.484 with 32 home runs and 92 RBI in 651 plate appearances while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base.

Just because the Orioles don’t plan to move Machado this offseason doesn’t mean they won’t try to recoup some value ahead of next year’s non-waiver trade deadline. According to Heyman, a person involved with the Orioles said, “It would take us 35 years to find another player like him.”