Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 3, Red Sox 0: Matt Moore throws his first career shutout and it came in the first game of what, so far this year, is the Rays biggest series. Two hits allowed, one walk four strikeouts as the Rays cut a game off the Sox’ division lead, now sitting a half game back.

Reds 11, Giants 0: Bronson Arroyo’s 100th win as a Red comes on a shutout in which he scattered seven hits. It was his sixth shutout all-time. Tim Lincecum had eight days to rest his arm after his 148-pitch no-hitter. Didn’t help much, as he was roughed up to the tune of eight runs on nine hits in three and two-thirds.

Rangers 3, Yankees 0: The third shutout of the night, though this one was a team effort. Yu Darvish brought it into the seventh and then three relievers took it from there. Nelson Cruz homered to help the Rangers to victory. If yesterday’s big news is a harbinger — and it’s hard to see how it isn’t — don’t get used to Cruz helping you out for the rest of this season, Texas fans.

Pirates 6, Nationals 5: The Pirates win, yes, and Andrew McCutchen had two homers, but all anyone wants to talk about is how they’ve lost Jason Grilli to what, by appearances, is a serious arm injury. The Nationals, meanwhile, are a hot mess. Or a cold mess. Whichever mess is the worst.

Dodgers 14, Blues Jays 5: Can’t stop the Dodgers. Oh, wait, I’m sorry: can’t stop the first place L.A. Dodgers. Who were nine and a half games back on June 22nd. A.J. Ellis drove in five. Skip Schumaker hit a three run bomb. Then dropped some bombs after the game.

Braves 2, Mets 1: Jason Heyward does not always play center field. But when he does, he makes game-saving catches. Stay frustrated, my Mets friends.

Padres 5, Brewers 3: The Brewers lost with Ryan Braun this season and they can lose without him too, so in that regard nothing has changed. Not having Corey Hart all year has been just as big a problem. Nightmare year for Milwaukee.

Tigers 7, White Sox 3: Max Scherzer won his 14th game, but Miguel Cabrera left with a sore hip flexor. Unless I’m missing a stint at one time with Florida, I don’t believe he’s ever been on the disabled list. Chris Sale struck out 11 and allowed only two earned runs, but the White Sox allowed five unearned overall. Bad defense aside, Adam Dunn did make one really nice play at first which caused me to almost do a spit take.

Marlins 3, Rockies 1: Miami finally ends their scoreless streak at 37 innings when Giancarlo Stanton hit an RBI double in the first. After the game Logan Morrison made a funny when he said that you know the Marlins are clean given how crappy their offense is.

Orioles 9, Royals 2: Tampa Bay is on the verge of overtaking Boston, but don’t sleep on Baltimore. The O’s are now 2.5 back after taking their fifth game in a row. Three RBI a piece from All-Stars Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy.

Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 2: Arizona surrenders first place as emergency starter Chris Rusin — called on to replace the just-traded Matt Garza — held the Dbacks scoreless until the sixth inning. Love that Garza trade for Chicago, by the way.

Athletics 4, Astros 3: A two-run homer for Josh Reddick and a solo shot for Chris Young. The A’s are taking extreme advantage of their new division mates, upping their record to 10-0 against the Astros this year.

Twins 4, Angels 3: Player of the game Clete Thomas. Homer, RBI double and a nice grab on what would have been a go-ahead homer by Chris Iannetta.

Mariners 2, Indians 1: The Mariners — playing this one without Eric Wedge — won their seventh in a row. Kendrys Morales and Mike Zunino each homered and Aaron Harang pitched seven strong innings. Not that I feel like they’re competitive, but the M’s did tie the Angels in the standings.

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]