Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 4, Brewers 3: Andrew McCutchen with a walkoff bomb in the 12th. John Axford surrendered the lead in the eighth. He’s got a nifty 9.20 ERA now.

Dodgers 2, Nationals 0: Clayton Kershaw stuck out 11 in eight and two-thirds shutout innings. He tossed 132 pitches: the most in his career and the most in baseball since Justin Verlander threw the same amount last August.

Padres 3, Orioles 2: Yesterday on a radio spot I did we talked about how automatic Jim Johnson has been, having converted 35 straight saves. Sorry for jinxing you, dude. The Padres rallied for two in the ninth giving Johnson his first blown save of the year, as Johnson couldn’t quite wriggle out of the jam he created for himself. Single, single, double play, HBP, single, single, blown save. Death by, well, four or five cuts.

Phillies 6, Indians 2: Jonathan Pettibone got to the bigs because of injuries but he’s staying there because he’s getting the job done. Two runs allowed in six and two thirds. A three for four night with three RBI for John Mayberry.

Yankees 4, Mariners 3: Felix Hernandez was cruising until he tweaked his back in the sixth and had to leave after allowing only one run. The Yankees capitalized, scoring three off Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush. CC Sabathia struck out ten. Allowed ten hits too. But he kept New York close, which was good enough last night.

Reds 6, Marlins 2: Homer Bailey went the distance, striking out ten. Ricky Nolasco, in contrast, walked two dudes with the bases loaded and just had a miserable night. But hey, it’s Miami.

Blue Jays 10, Giants 6: Melky Cabrera welcomed his former teammates with a 4 for 5, two RBI night. R.A. Dickey struck out ten in six innings. The Jays put up a six-spot in the first inning off Barry Zito and that was almost all she wrote.

Rockies 9, Cubs 4: Carlos Gonzalez went 5 for 5 with two homers. And he was — all together now — a triple shy of the cycle.

Tigers 6, Astros 2: Miguel Cabrera had a homer, but it came after the game was effectively decided. The night before he didn’t do much of anything as the Tigers routed Houston. Basically, the Tigers could be sending out a team full of Don Kellys and Andy Dirkseseseses and still be sweeping this series. Really, it’s like watching an exhibition series between the big club and Triple-A or something.

Cardinals 10, Mets 4: The Mets are … not good. Carlos Beltran is, though. He drove in four, reminding those in New York who still think he’s a bum that in fact he’s arguably a borderline Hall of Famer. John Gast pitched well for five innings before running into some trouble in the sixth. Still, impressive for the kid. Who, if he really takes off, we can start calling “The Great Gastby” or something. [dodges thrown fruit] or maybe not.

Rays 5, Red Sox 3: Matt Moore was smacked around for three runs in the first but then settled down and moved to 7-0 on the year. Six straight wins for the Rays.

Diamondbacks 2, Braves 0: This Patrick Corbin kid continues to impress, winning his sixth straight start to kick off the year despite walking five dudes. Double plays helped, as he had three turned behind him to get him out of jams. The Braves have lost four of five.

White Sox 4, Twins 2: Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo hit back to back homers. Jake Peavy was solid again. The Sox win despite two pretty clearly blown calls by umps, one at first base one at home.

Angels 6, Royals 2: I guess Jeremy Guthrie is mortal after all. The Angels tagged him for five runs on 11 hits in seven innings. Homers from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. This is how it was supposed to go.

Rangers 6, Athletics 5: Two homers from Mitch Moreland, including one that helped ice it in the tenth inning. Adrian Beltre hit one in the tenth as well. Joe Nathan was shaky as all get-out in the bottom of the inning but finally nailed it down, needing 31 pitches to do so.

The Phillies are seeing to it that their minor leaguers eat well

Crop of vegetables. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other vegetables.
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For years we’ve talked about how odd it is that baseball teams are in the extraordinarily competitive business of developing highly-trained athletes yet, for whatever reason, it pays minor leaguers virtually nothing and all but forces them to subsist on junk food and other cheap options.

As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, however, the Phillies are changing that. Indeed, they’re plowing serious money into nutritious food options for their minor league players:

The Phillies are teaching their minor leaguers how to play baseball, so why not teach them how to eat well, too?

“We want them to not have to worry about anything other than baseball,” assistant general manager Ned Rice said. “When they’re playing for the Phillies, they’ll have that stuff taken care of for them.”

 

That this is a news story — and it is a good and novel one — is kind of sad in some ways. How teams haven’t been on board with this approach for decades is beyond me.

Tracking baseball’s “Naturals”

The Natural
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Rob Neyer has a great column in today’s New York Times in which he tracks the real life players who, at one time or another, were dubbed “The Natural.” A la Roy Hobbs in the book and movie of the same name.

There are some that a lot of people probably remember: Jeff Francoeur and Ken Griffey, Jr. as “The Natural” come to mind easily. There are some who I don’t ever recall being called “The Natural” but were, apparently, like Terry Pendelton and Karim Garcia. There are also some whose stories were far odder and far more tragic than any version of Hobbs’ tale (oh man, a Toe Nash sighting!). Then there’s Rick Ankiel, whose path may be the closest one to Hobbs’ of them all, at least broadly speaking.

Fun stuff that, in addition to being a walk down memory lane, is also an instructive lesson about how the power of narrative works in sports.

 

Sure, Carlos Gomez is the problem in Houston

Houston Astros' Carlos Gomez (30) reacts after hitting a double in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Associated Press
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No one will claim that Carlos Gomez is playing up to his ability. He’s got a .634 OPS in the 65 games he’s played for the Astros between last year and this year. Not good at all.

Still, he seems to be taking an outsized amount of the blame for the Astros’ slow start to this year. I do a weekly radio hit on a Texas station and Gomez has been the talk for three weeks when the Astros’ troubles are mentioned. Today Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle spends a whole column going at Gomez, with the usual dash of “you can’t be flamboyant if you can’t back it up” sentiment often given to players like Gomez when they struggle but which is seemingly never given to players whose act is more “tough guy.” Funny that.

More notable: nowhere in the column is it mentioned that, overall, the Astros’ offense is above league average and that, in reality, it’s the pitching that’s killing them. Gomez may not be carrying his weight, but his teammates in the lineup are for now, as teammates do for every hitter at one time of the year or another. Meanwhile, Smith doesn’t seem to be writing columns about how three of the Astros’ five starters have ERAs above 5.00 and how the bullpen has been a disaster. Gomez, however, gets a “Rally Killer” subheading in reference to his performance in a game his team actually won, primarily due to the offense.

There’s also an unfortunate quote in the article. Specifically, Smith quotes Gomez as saying “For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed.”

I’m sure that’s what he said, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the quote’s imperfect English fits satisfyingly into a column designed to rip Gomez and that it’s going to play right into stereotyping a certain sort of reader who has just HAD it with those allegedly lazy, entitled Latino players likes to engage in. For the record, its not uncommon for other players whose grammar is less than perfect to get [the bracket treatment] to make the mistakes less noticeable. Or, if the quote is less than clear or enlightening, to get the paraphrasing treatment and have his sentiment conveyed in keeping with the intent of the sentiment. I guess Gomez doesn’t get that treatment. He gets to be portrayed in such a way that a certain sort of reader will unfortunately interpret as him being too dumb or too lazy to learn proper English or something.

And no, it’s not just sensitive old Craig noticing that:

Empathy is the key word here, I think. Smith as no interest in portraying Gomez as a player who, like all players, struggles from time to time. He has to be the bad guy who is responsible for all of the Astros’ woes, it seems.

Puerto Rico official calls MLB’s likely series cancellation “an act of touristic terrorism”

Ricardo Arduengo -- Associated Press
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On Tuesday it was reported that Major League Baseball is on the verge of cancelling the upcoming series in Puerto Rico between the Marlins and the Pirates due to Zika concerns. Puerto Rico is not particularly pleased with that.

As this story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review makes clear, their displeasure is being expressed in totally calm and rational terms:

“It’s an outrageous situation,” Rep. Angel Matos, head of the tourism commission for Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, told the Tribune-Review. “The reality is that this cancellation is unfair, disproportionate, and makes our country look bad. It’s an act of touristic terrorism.”

I will grant that a cancellation wouldn’t be great for Puerto Rico. I will also grant that an expert cited in the same article claims that the odds of any players contracting Zika are very, very long. Indeed, he compares it to someone hitting 20 homers in a single game. Which, sure, Giancarlo Stanton is involved here so you can never totally rule it out, but it’s super unlikely.

But MLB, the union and the players involved aren’t in the business of dealing with the probability of disease contraction. They’re dealing with a bunch of players being really nervous about something vs. a two-game series in May that, while carrying big meaning for Puerto Rico, is sort of meaningless to them in a lot of ways, even if they won’t say so publicly. They’re weighing this a lot differently than tourism commission executives.

My guess is that it still gets cancelled. My guess is that, even if it does, Puerto Rico will survive this act of alleged “touristic terrorism.”