New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 4, Braves 3: Good news: two solo homers for David Wright and five scoreless innings from the bullpen. Bad news: The reason the pen was needed for five innings is that Jon Neise had to leave the game with shoulder problems. Braves news: ugh, you guys have looked positively crappy of late.

Tigers 4, Red Sox 3: Down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Jhonny Peralta hit a walkoff homer. Tigers players were then dispatched to the Red Sox clubhouse to teach Boston players how to cope with their bullpen failing them, seeing as they have so much experience in that area. It’s kind of like an Alanon mentor thing.

Nationals 5, Rockies 1: Roy Oswalt returns. Roy Oswalt strikes out 11 batters in five innings. Roy Oswalt also gives up four runs on nine hits, including an Ian Desmond homer and a two-run triple to Adam LaRoche. Which I have to go and see video of now, because Adam LaRoche is the slowest dude in baseball. I’m assuming the center fielder was eaten by a lion or a bear or something as he was going to field the ball and the other two outfielders stopped to render assistance, followed by a mourning period. When that was over and they had distributed the center fielder’s belongings to his friends and family and had taken a long road trip to clear their own heads and reflect on the loss of their teammate, one of them probably picked up the ball and threw it to third where they still probably just missed nailing LaRoche.

Pirates 5, Reds 3: A homer, double and single for Pedro Alvarez, who drove in all five Pirates runs. And there was a HBP in this game — Andrew McCutchen hit by Homer Bailey. A batter has been plunked in each of the ten games Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have played.

Twins 8, White Sox 4: The sweep. John Danks gave up four homers as part of a 12-hit, six run outing. Sheesh.

Rangers 4, Athletics 3: The Rangers take three of four from the A’s and pull to within a game in the west. This one ended with Josh Donaldson getting nailed at the plate on what would have been the game-tying run.

Astros 7, Brewers 4: Carlos Pena has been veteran presence, a good mentor and, given his poor .223/.332/.383 line, not much else for the Astros. Last night he provided something else, however, smacking a three-run walkoff homer in the tenth.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 1: Lance Lynn wins his tenth game of the year, allowing one run over six innings. Matt Holliday homered and had an RBI single.

Rays 8, Yankees 3: Two homers for Evan Longoria and three driven in overall to put him above 500 RBI for his career. The Yankees have lost seven of nine.

Padres 6, Dodgers 3: Pedro Ciriaco homered, tripled and drove in three. Yasiel Puig homered again, but at this point I presume he’s always gonna get his and that was more or less the only bright spot for L.A.

Marlins 2, Giants 1: Marcell Ozuna came in as a pinch hitter and smacked a two-run single to bring the Fish back from behind. Tom Koehler got his first career win and was given a beer shower after the game. He said “I smell like a bar … Other than the day I met my wife, this is probably the happiest moment of my life.” So … wedding was third?

Angels 10, Mariners 9: The Mariners jumped out to a 7-0 lead and had Felix Hernandez on the hill. I guess Hernandez doesn’t know what to do with that kind of run support because he ended up surrendering seven runs of his own on 12 hits in five innings as the Angels bullpen allowed only two runs in seven innings of their own after Tommy Hanson got knocked out of the box. Three RBI for Mark Trumbo.

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]