Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

48 Comments

Yankees 8, Royals 4: Jeter returns. And got a hit! And an RBI! And scored a run! And left with a strained quadricep! Oy vey.

Braves 6, Reds 5: Freddie Freeman wins the Final Vote than goes out and has himself a nice night (3 for 4, 4 RBI). Bad news, though: Jason Heyward left with a strained hamstring.

Phillies 3, Nationals 1: And the Phillies take three of four from the Nats. This after winning series against the Braves and Pirates. Now they have the White Sox leading up to the break. It feels like they’re doing better. They’re not gaining much ground on Atlanta, however. They’ve been back eight or nine games at times this year, but 7.5 games back is basically where they’ve been hovering forever now. It’s hard to dig out of a hole.

Indians 4, Blues Jays 2: Rookie Danny Salazar was most impressive, pitching six innings while allowing only one run on two hits and striking out seven. He’s proof that you can ply your trade in Columbus, Ohio and then, one day, make it to the big time.

Rays 4, Twins 3: That’s eight straight for the streaking Rays. And the 13th win of the year for Matt Moore, who struck out ten in seven and a third innings. Luke Scott, who has been hot in his own right of late, hit a homer.

Cubs 3, Cardinals 0: The good Edwin Jackson showed up and tossed seven shutout innings. All three of the Cubs runs were batted in by Anthony Rizzo. Matt Holliday joined Jason Heyward in the left-the-game-early-because-of-a-hamstring club.

Diamondbacks 5, Brewers 3: Wade Miley gave the snakes what they needed: a long outing following a 14-inning game. He pitched eight and the Diamondbacks snapped their three-game skid.

White Sox 6, Tigers 3: There was some bench-clearing action after some purpose pitches but nothing too chippy went down. Josh Phegley hit a grand slam and Chris Sale finally broke his string of winless starts, getting the first real run support he’s had in a dog’s age.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: The Dodgers are now above .500 after Chris Capuano tossed six shutout innings and Mark Ellis drove in four. That’s 16 of 20 for the men in blue. Well, mostly white with a splash of blue. There’s a touch of red in there too. The men in blue are umpires, really. Although I think it’s way more black these days than blue. Man, it’s hard to keep track of such things.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 7: Seattle took a 5-1 lead but the Sox came back and eventually forced extras. This is not to be confused with Tuesday’s game in which they also found themselves down 5-1 and won.

Giants 4, Padres 2: Madison Bumgarner: stopper. For the third straight time he came out with the Giants on a four-game losing streak and won. I guess when your team is terrible overall it’s easier to be seen as a “stopper.” Pitch for the Cardinals or Red Sox or something and there isn’t all that much to stop.

Orioles 3, Rangers 1: Chris Davis hit his 34th homer and drove in his 86th run. His home run snapped an 0 for 17 slump. He went on to strike out twice after the homer, though.

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
2 Comments

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
24 Comments

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]