Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 3, Tigers 2: Jose Valverde was handed a 2-0 lead in the ninth with a runner on and promptly coughed it up by surrendering a homer to Lorenzo Cain. Phil Coke added his own brand of kerosene to the fire on the 10th as Eric Hosmer singled in the winning run. After the game he was, and I am not making this up, was given a celebratory BBQ sauce shower. Which, on the one hand is kind of fun. On the other hand it suggests that the Royals really don’t know how to handle the rituals of winning. Like, I guess they can ask Miguel Tejada or Jeff Francoeur what they’re supposed to do when they win, but they may not remember.

Angels 9, Orioles 5: Down 4-2 entering the seventh and the Angels put up a six-spot. The six spot was aided by an Erick Aybar bases-loaded triple and an Albert Pujols homer. Chris Davis homered again too, giving him 21 on the year.

Reds 2, Cubs 1: Mike Leake out-dueled Travis Wood. Would really like to see the phrase “out-dueled” expand in use a bit. We could apply it to two people who enter a nearly-full parking lot at the same time. I’m sure there are others. If you have some potential “out-dueled” applications please leave them in the comments.

Padres 5, Braves 3: And the sweep. Edinson Volquez struck out nine in seven innings and Chris Denorfia hit a two-run homer. The Padres have won six of eight. The Braves finish a dismal L.A.-San Diego road trip 2-5.

Pirates 12, Giants 8: Pirates surging, Giants, um, well, there isn’t a word that is both the opposite of and rhymes with surging. Barry Zito got tattooed for eight runs and saw his road ERA balloon to 11.28 (it’s 1.94 in San Francisco). Starling Marte had four hits and scored four runs.

Red Sox 2, Rays 1: We’ve secretly replaced Alfredo Aceves with a pitcher who doesn’t stink. Let’s see if anyone notices! The Red Sox’ complicated swingman allowed one run over six innings. A 2-1 game required 11 pitchers and went nearly three and a half hours. Viva AL East baseball.

Mets 5, Cardinals 1: Dillon Gee had his third straight start in which he only allowed one run. Shelby Miller had his worst start in his young career. Still struck out ten in that worst start. Homers for David Wright, Lucas Duda and Marlon Byrd.

Indians 5, Rangers 2: A home run and three hits overall for Jason Kipnis. Cleveland entered this series on a losing skid but took two of three from the Rangers, who have lost five of seven.

Brewers 10, Marlins 1: Three driven in for Carlos Gomez. Seven shutout innings for Alfredo Figaro. Kind of a quintessential 2013 game for the Marlins.

Twins 4, Phillies 3: You can’t stop Clete Thomas, you can only hope to contain him. The [insert intimidating nickname for Thomas here when we think of one] was 4 for 4 with a couple of RBI doubles as the Phillies dropped their fifth straight.

Nationals 5, Rockies 1: Ross Ohlendorf made his Nats debut and allowed one run over six innings. I got to see him pitch here in Columbus a couple of weeks ago and got a load of his new, old-timey, hands over his head windup. It’s a treat. Enjoy it Nats fans.

Diamondbacks 8, Dodgers 2: The day after fisticuffsmanship, the Snakes rattle out 20 hits. They needed all 20, though, as this one went into the 12 inning. The Dbacks have done quite well in extras this year, however. And they’ve taken four straight series from the Dodgers.

Athletics 5, Yankees 2: Two homers for Brandon Moss. The A’s have won ten in a row at home.

Astros 6, Mariners 1: Houston scored all six runs in a ninth inning rally as eight shutout innings from Jeremy Bonderman — Jeremy Bonderman! — go to waste.

Blue Jays vs. White Sox: POSTPONED: I should have guessed that you’d stand me up. Why did I even go, now? And I guess it goes to show the snow may well thaw out, but it goes right down the drain. You left me, You left me, You left me, You left me, You left me standing in the rain.

Collins worried David Wright might go on disabled list

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
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NEW YORK — Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York’s captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

“With the condition he’s been playing in and the condition he’s in right now, yeah, I’m concerned about it,” Collins said Monday. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during Monday’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely: