And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 6, Phillies 4: Six straight wins for the Dodgers as Yasiel Puig singled home the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh inning. Puig also smacked into the scoreboard in right field, so he’s basically Bryce Harper in multiple respects. That seventh inning rally was occasioned by the bases being loaded on a walk, a bunt which Ryan Howard muffed to allow the bunter to reach and then another walk. Then Puig did his stuff.

Cubs 7, Brewers 2: Series like Cubs-Brewers are, at this point, primarily scouting combines in anticipation of the trade deadline. And Matt Garza was the equivalent of that defensive end wearing Under Armor spandex while creepy dudes like Mel Kiper talk about their “long-bodies” and “great wingspan.” He struck out ten in seven innings while allowing one run on eight hits with a walk.

Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 2: Remember that scene in “The Natural” where Roy Hobbs’ winning blast caused the light tower to explode in spark and flame? Well, that happened at Nats park yesterday except (a) the road team won; and (b) the winning hit in the ninth 11th was a bunt. Two bunts actually won it. Miguel Montero hit a ground rule double, Cody Ross bunted his pinch runner to third and Didi Gregorius “knocked” in the go-ahead run with a bunt single. Then he was transported to a wheat field where he played catch with his illegitimate son as Glen Close watched over them lovingly. Or something.

Angels 3, Tigers 1: Albert Pujols with an RBI double in the tenth that provided the winning margin. The Angels have beat the Tigers for the ninth straight time. Guys Tigers fans love to hate did well. Jeff Weaver — who got all plunky with Tigers hitters last year — allowed one run in seven innings. Mike Trout — who many Tigers fans have decided to hate because how dare someone suggest Miguel Cabrera have competition for the MVP last year?! — was 4 for 5 yesterday and 8 for 16 in the series with a homer, two doubles and five RBI.

Orioles 7, Indians 3: Down 3-2 in the fifth the O’s scored five of their own. Manny Machado was ejected arguing that a third strike was really a foul ball. That ended a streak of 1,206 innings played, which was the longest active streak in the bigs. Lonnie Chisenhall on the O’s quick strike for five:

“It happened so fast, same thing last night,” said Chisenhall. “It’s the way the AL East plays. Runs just show up on the board.”

Damndest thing, that.

Mets 3, Rockies 2: The makeup game from a snow-out back in April. Marlon Byrd hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning and threw out a runner from right field in the ninth. The guy he nailed on the base paths? Michael Cuddyer, who was trying to stretch a single into a double. He still had three hits on the day, though, and extended his hitting streak to 24 games. That’s a Rockies record.

Rangers 2, Yankees 0: Derek Holland with the Maddux, shutting out the Bombers — if we can call this lineup the “Bombers” — on 92 pitches.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 4: John Lester got a much-needed win — only his second in eight starts — but left the game in the eighth when he jammed his hip. A seven-run second inning for the Sox pretty much sewed this game up early, however.

Twins 3, Royals 1: Samuel Deduno allowed one run over seven innings, walking only one. Which is a big deal for him, because he’s usually walktastic.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.