Orioles' Jones watches his two-run home run off of Yankees closing pitcher Rivera during the ninth inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

57 Comments

Orioles 2, Yankees 1: Even Superman gets beat up once in a while. Adam Jones handed Mariano Rivera his second blown save of the year and the first blown save in Yankee Stadium in a dog’s age when he smacked a two-run homer in the ninth.

Speaking of Superman, I finally got around to seeing “Man of Steel” yesterday. It was OK, and the whole creation story was handled well I think, but man, the whole second half is problematic. I don’t think I’m giving anything away here because it’s a standard Superman trope, but please tell me how Superman’s long-held weakness/motivation of “protecting the precious human beings he’s adopted” becomes such a motivator/game changer in the climax of his battle with General Zod after he’s just spent the previous hour literally knocking down dozens and dozens of skyscrapers. I mean it: the damage he and the bad guys do to Metropolis during the battle is like 100 9/11s and he doesn’t friggin’ blink, but one family of three is in harm’s way at the end and THAT’S what sets him over the edge? It was a pretty movie and I think the actors were great and all of that, but at some point the filmmakers got carried away in portraying Superman-scale damage to a city simply because they had the special effects skills to do so without once thinking about or dealing with the consequences of the human damage and what it would mean for any of the characters involved.

OK, back to baseball.

Mariners 3, Reds 1: Joe Saunders pitched seven strong innings and Nick Franklin and Justin Smoak each homered. The M’s took two of three from the Rangers and then two of three from the Reds. Not a bad little road trip.

Nationals 11, Padres 7: Ryan Zimmerman hit a grand slam. Bryce Harper had three hits and two stolen bases. The Nats sweep the reeling Pads who have lost nine straight. Washington is now four back of the Braves and finally — finally — looking like they’re making a move.

Indians 9, Tigers 6: Michael Brantley had two homers and five RBIs. In other news, I went to Cleveland for the game on Saturday and was gobsmacked at how many Tigers fans invaded the city. Back in the mid-to-late 90s I went to Tiger Stadium a couple of times when the Indians were there and was gobsmacked at how many Indians fans had invaded Detroit. Guess these things go in cycles. Also fun: for Saturday’s game Carlos Carrasco was called up from Columbus, pitched awfully, and was sent back down on Sunday. I wish the Tribe had given us a heads up about all of that. We totally would have let him road trip back and forth with us.

Phillies 7, Braves 3: Domonoic Brown with a triple and a homer and two RBI. The Phillies took two of three from a Braves team which looks like a last place team on the road.

Blue Jays 11, Twins 5: Rajai Davis hit a three-run homer and Jose Reyes and Colby Rasmus each homered too. Todd Redmond allowed one hit over five innings. If the Jays could play the Twins all the time they’d be a playoff team.

Mets 2, Brewers 1: Juan Francisco had two throwing errors which led to two unearned runs by the Mets. It’s almost like maybe he shouldn’t be playing first base. anywhere? OK, he was playing third. Still not a fantastic defensive player.

Rays 3, White Sox 1: David Price tossed a complete game, allowing one run on eight hits (the official scorer has deemed the term “scattered” appropriate for those eight hits) as Tampa Bay sweeps Chicago. That’s four in a row overall for the Rays, who are now tied for second in the East, 4.5 back of the Sox.

Cardinals 3, Marlins 2: Lance Lynn outdueled (also an official scorers designation) Jose Fernandez and the Cardinals climbed back into a tie with the Pirates at the top of the Central. Lynn earned it, striking out Giancarlo Stanton all three times he faced him.

Athletics 10, Royals 4: Josh Reddick homered and drove in four and Jed Lowrie had three hits and a homer. Eric Sogard homered too, his first since April 2012. Jesse Chavez got a four-inning save, which is weird.

Cubs 4, Pirates 3: Dioneer Navarro with a walkoff sac fly in the 11th. Which isn’t quite as dramatic as a walkoff anything else, but ’twas enough. ‘Twill serve.

Rangers 5, Astros 4: Joakim Soria pitched for the first time since 2011. He was one of five Rangers relievers who combined for five shutout innings to save the bacon of starter Justin Grimm. A.J. Pierzynski had a two-run bomb.

Dodgers 4, Giants 1: Tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth with three men on, A.J. Ellis hit a bases-clearing double off Sergio Romo. Clayton Kershaw allowed one run over eight innings. Chad Gaudin nearly matched him, allowing one run in seven.

Angels 3, Red Sox 0: The Angels have won 10 of 12 after Jered Weaver tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off. Homers for Mike Trout and Hank Conger.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 1: Patrick Corbin was stuck on nine wins for seven straight starts but finally got his tenth after fanning ten Rockies and allowing one run on three hits over eight innings.  Five wins in a row for the Dbacks helps solidify their hold on the otherwise shaky NL West.

Ruben Amaro is workin’ out and gettin’ ready to coach first base

Ruben Amaro Jr.
2 Comments

One of the weirder stories of the offseason was Ruben Amaro going from the Phillies front office to the Red Sox, where he’ll coach first base. That kind of transition is almost unheard of but it’s happening with old Rube.

Today Pete Abraham of the Globe has a story about how Amaro is preparing for the role. And how, while it may look weird on paper, the move actually makes a lot more sense than you might suspect given the Red Sox’ coaching staff and Amaro’s own background. It’s good stuff. Go check it out.

On a personal note, it serves as a signal to me to keep my eyes peeled for reports about Amaro from Fort Myers once camp gets started:

Amaro has been working out in recent weeks with his nephew Andrew, a Phillies prospect, to get ready for throwing batting practice and hitting fungoes.

Could we be so lucky as to get the first-ever Best Shape of His Life report for a coach? God, I hope so!

It’s pretty stupid that athletes can’t endorse beer

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner celebrates after pitching the Giants to a 8-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) ORG XMIT: PAGP102
20 Comments

One of the more amusing things to spin out of the Super Bowl were Peyton Manning’s little Budweiser endorsements in his postgame interviews. It was hilarious, really, to see him shoehorn in references to going and cracking a crisp cool Budweiser multiple times. It was more hilarious when a Budweiser representative tweeted that Manning was not paid to do that. Of course, Manning owns an interest in alcohol distributorships so talking about The King of Beers was in his best financial interest all the same.

After that happened people asked whether or not Manning would face discipline about this from the NFL, as players are not allowed to endorse alcoholic beverages. This seemed crazy to me. I had no idea that they were actually banned from doing so. Then I realized that, huh, I can’t for the life of me remember seeing beer commercials with active athletes, so I guess maybe it’s not so crazy. Ken Rosenthal later tweeted that Major League Baseball has a similar ban in place. No alcohol endorsements for ballplayers.

Why?

I mean, I can fully anticipate why the leagues would say athletes can’t do it. Think of the children! Role models! Messages about fitness! All that jazz. I suspect a more significant reason is that the leagues and their partners — mostly Anheuser-Busch/InBev — would prefer not to allow high-profile athletes to shill for a competitor. How bad would it look for Alex Rodriguez to do spots for Arrogant Bastard Ale when there are Budweiser signs hanging in 81% of the league’s ballparks? Actually, such ads would look WONDERFUL, but you know what I mean here.

That aside, it does strike me as crazy hypocritical that the leagues can rake in as much as they do from these companies while prohibiting players from getting in on the action. If it is kids they’re worried about, how can they deny that they endorse beer to children every bit as effectively and possibly more so than any one athlete can by virtue of putting it alongside the brands that are the NFL and MLB? Personally I don’t put much stock in a think-of-the-children argument when it comes to beer — it’s everywhere already and everyone does a good job of pushing the “drink responsibly” message — but if those are the leagues’ terms, they probably need to ask themselves how much of a distinction any one athlete and the entire league endorsing this stuff really is.

That aside, sports and beer — often sponsored by active players — have a long, long history together:

Musial

And the picture at the top of this post certainly shows us that Major League Baseball has no issues whatsoever in having its players endorse Budweiser in a practical sense.

Why can’t they get paid for doing it?

The Orioles signed Rafael Palmeiro’s son

Rafael Palmeiro
Getty Images
1 Comment

Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.

Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.

As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.

This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
1 Comment

Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.