Miami Marlins  v Tampa Bay Rays

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 10, Marlins 6: Two three-run homers for Kelly Johnson. He also singled, doubled and stole a base. He has 24 RBI in 21 games in May. Six straight losses for the Marlins despite what was, for them anyway, an offensive outburst.

Tigers 6, Pirates 5: While it was his second win in a row this one was way better, personally speaking, for Justin Verlander. Thirteen strikeouts and three runs over seven innings.

Orioles 6, Nationals 2: Fifteen hits for the O’s and a nice start for Jason Hammel in the first of a weird, four-game home-and-home series in four days for Baltimore and Washington. Davey Johnson vowed not to shave until the Nats’ bats “came alive.” At this rate he’s going to look like Billy Gibbons before it’s all over.

Astros 3, Rockies 2: A walkoff ground rule double for Brandon Barnes in the 12th. The Rockies stranded 15 runners in this one. That’s, like, more than two Gilligan’s Islands worth of castaways.

Reds 4, Indians 2: Joey Votto hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth off Nick Hagadone, who was just called up from Columbus. Shoulda stayed here in Columbus, man. It’s so much safer here.

Cardinals 6, Royals 3: Yadier Molina homered and drove in four. Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright scattered 12 hits over eight innings. If you can call 12 in 8 a “scattering” as opposed to the Royals simply squandering multiple opportunities.

Twins 6, Brewers 3: Joe Mauer hit a homer that was reviewed and upheld on replay for the second time in three days. He’s just not a big fan of the human element.

Athletics 4, Giants 1: Dan Straily with his second straight strong start, allowing one run over six innings. Madison Bumgarner was shaky. Four in a row for the A’s.

Diamondbacks 5, Rangers 3Diamondbacks 5, Rangers 4: Tyler Skaggs struck out nine in six innings in the first one. Yu Darvish strikes out 14 in seven and two-thirds in the nightcap. The difference: Skaggs won his start while Darvish got the no-decision thanks to a ninth inning RBI single by Cliff Pennington.

Mariners 9, Padres 0: Aaron Harang with a four-hit shutout and his best start in four years. Not that he needed it thanks to the M’s bats. Homers from Jason Bay and Michael Morse, among other destruction.

Mets 2, Yankees 1: A rare late-innings failure for the Yankees bullpen. Not that they had a huge margin for error, but still. Daniel Murphy with an RBI single to center off Dave Robertson in the eighth. It was the first time in 23 games the Yankees lost when leading after six.

Blue Jays 9, Braves 3: Five driven in for Edwin Encarnacion. Rookie reliever Cory Rasmus got mop-up duty for Atlanta and gave up an RBI double to his brother Colby. Which wasn’t very nice. Not all good for Toronto, though, as Brett Lawrie left with a sprained ankle.

Cubs 7, White Sox 0: Jeff Samardzija with a two-hit shutout. And like Harang’s gem, he didn’t have to do it given what the bats did. Two RBI a piece for Julio Borbon, Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano.

Red Sox 9, Phillies 3: Tyler Cloyd couldn’t make it out of the third inning and Alfredo Aceves didn’t stink for once. The Sox have won 10 of 13 and have taken sole possession of first in the east.

Dodgers 8, Angels 7: The eight-game winning streak is over. Not that the Dodgers made it easy on themselves. The Dodgers were down 6-1, thanks in part to numerous defensive miscues early — many not called errors — which helped Anaheim build their lead. Adrian Gonzalez remains hot. Even Juan Uribe got into the act, going 3 for 3 after coming in late as a pinch hitter.

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]