And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

70 Comments

White Sox 3, Orioles 2: A walkoff homer for Adam Dunn won it, but seven shutout innings — with 11 strikeouts — from Jose Quintana helped make it possible.

Athletics 1, Cubs 0: Offense-lovers need not apply. Dan Straily allowed only one hit in seven shutout innings. Travis Wood had six shutout innings of his own. The only run of the game scored on a passed ball.

Rays 7, Astros 5: Yunel Escobar drove in three runs, including a tiebreaking double in the 11th. The Rays have won five of six.

Yankees 9, Twins 5: A trip to Target Field was just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees, who sweep the four-game series. Yankees hitters beat the tar out of Kyle Gibson, led by Vernon Wells’ three-RBI day.

Royals 10, Indians 7: The Tribe had a five-run lead in the sixth inning but they gagged it away in the bottom half of that inning when Lorenzo Cain hit a grand slam and George Kottaras hit a solo shot. The pen continued to bleed like a stuck pig as the Royals added five more in the seventh and eighth. Now Cleveland heads home to host the Tigers in a four game series which will maybe tell us if the Indians are going to, once again, hit the skids after a good first half.

Phillies 6, Pirates 4: Cole Hamels allowed one earned run in seven and a third and the bullpen — try as it did to blow it — held on and Hamels won his first game in a month. Gerrit Cole lost his first game ever. The Pirates dropped two of three to the Phillies.

Diamondbacks 5, Mets 4: Well that was pretty nuts. Game-tying homers in the 13th and 14th innings but still not enough for the Mets. Thanks to the extras and overall slow play this series was the longest four-game series played — in terms of actual game-time — in 24 years.

Red Sox 8, Padres 2: Sox batters rattled off 18 hits and the Padres lost their sixth in a row. Boston has won 12 of 14.

Nationals 8, Brewers 5: Wilson Ramos came back after 44 games on the DL and hit the go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh. That on top of a two-run single in the fifth. Welcome back, Wilson.

Marlins 4, Braves 3: Craig Kimbrel came into a 3-3 tie in the ninth, walked two of the first three batters he faced and the gave up an RBI single to pinch hitter Donovon Solano which proved to be the game-winner. Or loser, depending on your point of view.

Rockies 9, Dodgers 5: Michael Cuddyer’s great season continues as he hit a homer and drove in three. Carlos Gonzalez left the game with a strained back. He’s supposed to be OK.

Tigers 11, Blue Jays 1: No Miguel Cabrera? No Omar Infante? No problem. Justin Verlander tossed seven shutout innings and the Tigers bats, led by Austin Jackson’s 4 for 5, 3 RBI night, had no problem beating up on Esmil Rogers and the rest of the Jays staff.

Rangers 5, Mariners 4: Two solo homers for Adrian Beltre. The second one kicked off a four-run seventh inning which brought Texas back from behind.

Angels 6, Cardinals 5: Josh Hamilton hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth and then Erick Aybar singled in the game-winner to complete Edward Mujica’s blown save as the Angels take two of three from St. Louis.

Giants vs. Reds: POSTPONED: The rain to the wind said, ‘You push and I’ll pelt.’ They so smote the garden bed That the flowers actually knelt, And lay lodged–though not dead. I know how the flowers felt.”

The Mets are a mess

Al Bello/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Mets lost again on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Braves. It’s their sixth consecutive loss and the club is now in last place in the NL East. Not exactly the start the Mets envisioned.

Matt Harvey got the start, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on five hits and five walks with only one strikeout. After the game, Harvey said he was tight and that he threw yesterday expecting to start on Friday instead, per Matt Ehalt of The Record. Sounds like no one communicated to Harvey that he’d be starting this afternoon until it was too late for him to properly prepare.

Harvey started because Noah Syndergaard was scratched due to a “tired arm.” Syndergaard blew reporters off after the game, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma then added that Syndergaard ripped Mets P.R. guy Jay Horwitz for letting reporters approach him.

By the way, the Mets also lost outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a hamstring injury. Not much else can go wrong in Queens.

Joey Votto isn’t on board with the latest fly ball trend among hitters

Dylan Buell/Getty Images
1 Comment

If you haven’t heard, fly balls — not ground balls or line drives — are all the rage among hitters these days. Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez summed it up perfectly last month when he said, “I’m not trying to hit a [freaking] line drive or a freaking ground ball.” The goal is to maximize damage. Last year, for example, fly balls became hits about 17 percent less often than ground balls (7.4% versus 24.6%), but hitters had a slugging percentage more than twice as much as on ground balls (.539 versus .267). This refocusing has helped hitters like Martinez as well as Ryan Zimmerman reinvigorate their careers.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is as much a student of new age analytics as anyone in the game, doesn’t feel that this approach is necessarily a good one, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto said:

Where I get concerned is the guys that make this attempt and burn out too much of their time and don’t get a chance to be their best selves, and either don’t make it to the big leagues or don’t perform their best in the big leagues because they’re always attempting this new style of hitting. I see it with a lot of guys. Everyone tells the good stories, but there’s a lot of s—ty stories of guys who are wasting their time trying things.

Votto added that while the fly ball approach is working right now, pitchers will soon adapt and the fly ball approach won’t be so good anymore. And he’s right. Baseball has always been a game of adjustments. For example, as teams have gotten comfortable with shifting their infield, hitters like the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber have both dropped bunts down the third base line for easy hits. Knowing that hitters are aiming to hit fly balls now, pitchers may stay higher in the strike zone more often as one possible solution.

Votto is just trying to stay as well-rounded as possible. He says that he wants to become “unpitchable.” Votto wants to be like Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whom he describes as a guy “who can do absolutely anything he wants” and “at all times [has] all options.”

So far, Votto is having another productive season despite a relatively pedestrian batting average and on-base percentage. He’s hitting .238/.330/.563 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 94 plate appearances. Coincidentally, he’s been hitting way more fly balls than usual as he’s currently carrying a 42.3 percent rate compared to his 33.1 career average, according to FanGraphs. His line drives are way down to 16.9 percent compared to his 25.4 percent career average.