And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 4, Braves 3; Mets 6, Braves 1: New York Mets fans are hoping this is a glimpse of the future. Matt Harvey dominating in one game, Zack Wheeler dominating in the next. And, worth noting, Dillion Gee dominating in the game before those even if they did lose in the end. There’s so much misery in being a Mets fan in recent years. And even at the best of times Mets fans tend to skew pessimistic. But this is real hope. Real excitement. One legitimate ace and another in training who can form the basis of the next great Mets team.

Red Sox 5, Rays 1; Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Not quite as auspicious a debut for Wil Myers, who went 1 for 7 with a couple of strikeouts in the twin bill. The first game — a rescheduled rainout — included a three-hour rain delay. It also included David Ortiz driving in three. Jonny Gomes won the nightcap with a two-run walkoff homer. Tough no-decision for Feliz Dubront, who shut the Rays out for eight before Andrew Bailey allowed a game-tying homer in the top of the ninth.

Phillies 4, Nationals 2: Cliff Lee pitched eight strong innings for his ninth win. Ryan Howard was 1 for 2 with a sac fly and a triple. He’s been heating up. Three doubles for Michael Young. Carlos Ruiz was 1 for 3 in his first game back off the DL. The Phillies are now tied with Washington for second place.

Pirates 4, Reds 0: Reds pitchers struck out 17 Pirates batters. Pirates pitchers allowed zero runs. Advantage: Pirates pitchers, who were more democratic and less fascist, apparently. All the Pirates runs came on singles.

Indians 4, Royals 3: Three runs in the eighth brought the Indians from behind. A base running mistake in the ninth kept the Royals from tying it back up, despite the fact that they got three singles and a walk that inning. David Lough coulda and maybe woulda scored, but his third base coach had a stop sign up, Lough hesitated in no-man’s land and got caught in a rundown. It ended with both him and Mike Moustakas on third base and Vinnie Pestano tagging everyone in sight because even major leaguers forget sometimes that the lead runner has a right to the base he just passed.

Blue Jays 8, Rockies 3: That’s seven straight for the Jays. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer while J.P. Arencibia and Maicer Izturis hit back-to-back homers.

Orioles 5, Tigers 2: J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones each hit homers off Justin Verlander. My daughter, wanting to brush up on her new skill, scored the first half of this game. At one point she and her brother had a big laugh calling Hardy “J.J. Farty.” I bet he’s never heard that one.

Cubs 4, Cardinals 2: Jeff Samardzija pitched into the ninth inning, outdueling Adam Wainwright, who dug himself a 4-0 hole in the first from which he couldn’t recover.

Athletics 6, Rangers 2: Brandon Moss and John Jaso homered, Jarrod Parker went seven scoreless innings as the A’s continued to beat Yu Darvish on the regs.

Diamondbacks 3, Marlins 2: The Dbacks snap a four-game losing streak via a Paul Goldschmidt homer in the ninth. Kirk Gibson, speaking to Cliff Pennington right before Goldschmidt’s homer: “I just said to Penny, ‘Let’s have another Goldy party,’ and then he hit it.'” Not sure I like the sound of “Goldy Party.” That could be any number of things, most of them awful.

Giants 5, Padres 4: Juan Perez hit a tiebreaking single with two outs in the eighth and helped snap the Padres seven game win streak. Perez is 8 for 19 with four outfield assists since being called up by the Giants to replace the injured Angel Pagan.

Twins 7, White Sox 5: One of several games with see-sawing leads and late runs deciding it. Here Ryan Doumit’s eighth inning double.

Astros 10, Brewers 1: Matt Dominguez hit a grand slam and a sac fly to account for his five-RBI night. The sac fly was pretty darn close to being a grand slam itself. The Astros have won five of six, scoring 27 runs in that span.

Mariners 3, Angels 2: Kendrys Morales haunts his old team with an RBI single in the tenth to put the M’s ahead for good. Josh Hamilton had five at bats: he grounded into double plays his first three times up and struck out his next two times up. That’s really something.

Dodgers vs. Yankees: POSTPONED: As a man I ain’t never been much for sunny days. I’m as calm as a fruit stand in New York and maybe as strange. But when the color goes out of my eyes its usually the change. But damn Sam I love a woman that rains.

How not to enjoy what Aaron Judge is doing

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has been one of the biggest and best stories in all of baseball this year. While he held promise entering his rookie season, most experts figured he’d provide some low-average, low-OBP power. That he’d be a guy who, based on his size, could send a pitcher’s mistake 500 feet in the wrong direction, but who would probably be shown to have big holes in his swing once he’d been around the league a little bit.

Judge defied expectations, however, and has put together an amazing rookie season. He broke the rookie home run record yesterday with his 50th blast. He still strikes out a lot but so does everyone. He nonetheless has hit for a great average and has gotten on base at a fantastic clip. He has also showed some uncommon resilience, overcoming a lengthy slump in July and August and returning to the dominant form he showed in the first half while helping a Yankees team not many figured to be a strong contender into the playoffs. Such a great story!

Sadly, however, this sentiment, which appeared from a commenter on my Facebook page yesterday, has become increasingly common:

I’ve seen it in a lot of comments sections and message boards around the Internet too, including our own comment section. From yesterday:

This is not exactly the same thing we’ve seen in the past with other breakout home run hitters such as Jose Bautista a few years back. This is not an accusation that Judge is taking drugs or anything. It’s more of a preemptive and defensive diminishment of excitement. And I find it rather sad.

Yes, I understand that past PED users have made fans wonder whether the players they watch are using something to get an extra edge, but it really does not need to be this way. We’ve had drug testing in baseball for over a decade and, while no drug testing regime is perfect, it just seems bizarre, several years after Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa did their thing — and a few years after Alex Rodriguez and others were caught and disciplined for trying to do more — to assume, out of hand, that great baseball performances are the product of undetected cheating. Yes, it’s possible, but such assumptions should not be the default stance, only to be disproved (somehow) at a later date.

The same goes for the juiced baseball, right? Yes, there is strong evidence that the baseball was changed a couple of years back leading to a home run spike, but aren’t all players using the same baseball? It’s also worth remembering that the season Mark McGwire hit 49 homers — 1987 — is strongly suspected of being a juiced ball year as well. It’s a concern that may be based in fact, but it’s a large concern over a fact thrown out with little regard for context to sketch out a threat that is either remote or without consequence.

The point here is not to argue that Aaron Judge is undeniably clean or that the baseball isn’t different. The former is unknown and the latter is likely false. The point is that it’s super sad and self-defeating to qualify every amazing feat you see with preemptive concern about such things. Years and years of sports writers writing McCarthy-esque “Yes, but is he clean?” articles does not require you, as a fan, to do the same. You can enjoy a cool thing in the moment. If it’s found out later to have been tainted, fine, we have a lot of practice in contextualizing such things and we’ll do so pretty quickly, but what’s the harm in going with it in real time?

I suspect the answer to that is rooted in some desire not to look like a sucker or something. Not to find oneself like many did, in the mid-2000s, being told by sportswriters and politicians that they were dupes for enjoying Sosa and McGwire in 1998. But that’s idiotic, in my view. I enjoyed 1998 and all of the baseball I saw on either side of it, as did most baseball fans. When the PEDs stuff exploded in the 2000s I reassessed it somewhat as far as the magnitude of the accomplishments compared to other eras in history, but it didn’t mean I enjoyed what I had seen any less.

Likewise, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of watching Aaron Judge this year. Why can’t everyone? Why is it so hard? Why have we been conditioned to be skeptical of something that is supposed to be entertaining? When your personal stakes are low like they are with respect to any sporting event or form of entertainment, it’s OK to enjoy things while they’re enjoyable and worry about them being problematic if and when they ever become so. And hey, they may not!

I promise you: if Aaron Judge walks into the postseason awards banquet this winter carrying a briefcase that unexpectedly opens and 200 syringes full of nandrolone fall out, no one is going to say you were dumb for cheering for him yesterday. It will really be OK.

Yadier Molina leaves game after taking two foul balls to the mask

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The St. Louis Cardinals have been eliminated from contention for the NL Central crown and are hanging on by the thinnest of threads in the race for the second NL Wild Card, two and a half games back of the Rockies with the Brewers in between. Last night those dim playoff hopes took what may have been a fatal blow thanks to a couple of foul balls that knocked Yadier Molina out of the game and, possibly, out for the season.

In the seventh inning of last night’s Cubs-Cardinals game Molina took a Kris Bryant foul ball off of his mask. It sent him to his knees. He gathered himself, set back up and, on the very next pitch, took a second foul ball, right to the mask. He was much slower in rising that time and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny immediately — and wisely — pulled Molina from the game.

Molina is being monitored for a concussion. Whether he has one or not, prudence would dictate sitting him down for the rest of what are likely the Cardinals final six games of 2017.