And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 6, White Sox 5: Living with a Tigers fan is kinda hard sometimes. Like, when you have the Indians-White Sox game on the TV, she wants the Indians to lose, the White Sox blow a two-run lead in the ninth and then Carlos Santana hits a walkoff homer in extras. It’s even more complicated when, as a matter of pure coincidence, you’re wearing the White Sox shirt you picked up on that trip to U.S. Cellular last month and, when Santana hits the homer, you give a little chuckle that was in no way intended to mock said Tigers fan but was totally construed as such.

Braves 9, Rockies 0: But who cares? My team won. Atlanta just keeps rolling along, getting their sixth straight win and putting up the third six-run-or-more inning in as many games against Colorado. Mike Minor won his 11th game with seven shutout innings. After the game Freddie Freeman said “We’re clicking on all cylinders.” I think he meant firing. If your cylinders are clicking, you should probably go see your mechanic.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 4: The idea of a “statement game” or “statement series” has always seemed hokey to me as the only statement which matters is the last one you’ve made and there is still plenty of time left in the season. But yeah, the Cardinals are getting told. In other news, I have tickets to a Pirates game on August 17. Since — as the White Sox shirt thing demonstrates — I am one of those people who like to own hats and shirts and stuff from almost any team, not just my rooting interest, I bought a Pirates cap and shirt yesterday to wear to the game. I feel like I’m one of many thousands buying Pirates gear for the first time. And for good reason.

Red Sox 5, Mariners 4: This was a 15-inning marathon, but it ended in the Red Sox regaining the lead in the A.L. East. The AP game story lead notes that this one started in July and ended in August, which is the kind of cutesy fact my dad would point out to me. He’s the type who will go 200 miles out of his way to stand at Four Corners or who would prefer to ski at the California-Nevada line at Tahoe more than anyplace else specifically so he can tell people he skied across two states. My dad is an odd one.  Anyway, sorry for the digression. This one featured two spiffy defensive plays late: an unassisted double play by Jonny Gomes, who caught a ball and then ran all the way to second base himself to double off Raul Ibanez. It also featured this laser from Michael Saunders to cut down what would have been the game winning run in the bottom of the 14th on a fly to center. I could watch stuff like that all day.

Tigers 11, Nationals 1: Gio Gonzalez got obliterated and the Nats fall to 4-9 since the break and find themselves 11 games back. Alex Avila homered for the second straight game. Torii Hunter went 4 for 5.

Reds 4, Padres 1: The Reds break their losing streak behind eight and a third innings from Homer Bailey in which he allowed only an unearned run.  After a long road trip the Reds get a much-needed day off before a weekend series at home vs. the Cardinals.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 2: A three-run double in the 10th from Jose Bautista give the Blue Jays their fifth win in seven games. This was a sloppy one, with the Jays committing four errors and the A’s allowing a run to score on a passed ball.

Giants 9, Phillies 2: A solid outing from Chad Gaudin and a four-RBI day from Brett Pill. Good thing the Phillies stood pat at the deadline. This is a core you really don’t want to break up.

Astros 11, Orioles 0:  Just yesterday I didn’t even know what a Brett Oberholtzer was, and now here I am, looking at a pitching line of seven three-hit shutout innings for the guy. A grand slam and two doubles from Jason Castro.

Marlins 3, Mets 2: Jake Marisnick homered and Henderson Alvarez won. Each were players picked up in that big trade with the Blue Jays last offseason. Which, again, was a disaster in terms of P.R. and fan base relations for the Marlins, but actually brought back some useful pieces.

Cubs 6, Brewers 1: It’s weird to think of these two in the same division as the Cards, Pirates and Reds. So much good baseball played at the top, so much bad played at the bottom. Sorry Cubs and Brewers fans: I know I’m being unfair to you guys by not digging into the box scores of these games to find all of the interesting happenings, but there are a couple of teams which I just totally tune out toward the end of each season. You two are pretty close to the top of my list of tune-outs this year.

Diamondbacks 7, Rays 0: Wade Miley pitched two-hit ball into the seventh. Paul Goldschmidt homered and reached base four times. The Dbacks break their losing streak. And they gain ground on the Dodgers because …

Yankees 3, Dodgers 0: … Hiroki Kuroda tied ’em up for seven innings and the Yankees rallied for three in the ninth. Only blemish for New York here is the revelation that Kuroda simply doesn’t know how to win.

Rangers 2, Angels 1: Walkoff homer for Adrian Beltre. Best part: as he was mobbed at home he covered his head with both hands. That whole Adrian-Beltre-hates-people-to-touch-his-head thing is just odd.

Royals 4, Twins 3: Eight wins in a row for the Royals. This is the first time the Royals have been above .500 at the end of July in ten years.

Mets closer Jeurys Familia receives a 15-game suspension for domestic violence

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Mets closer Jeurys Familia has received a 15-game suspension for domestic violence.

Familia was arrested in October following an incident at his home. Criminal charges were dropped in December. As we know, however, MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require criminal proceedings to be commenced, let alone completed, before the leveling of league punishment. MLB has been investigating the incident for the past several months.

Familia saved 51 games for the Mets last year while posting a 2.55 ERA. The Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

Familia has released a statement:

Today, I accepted a 15-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my inappropriate behavior on October 31, 2016. With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening. I did,however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.

My wife and I cooperated fully with Major League Baseball’s investigation, and I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience, and have grown as a husband, a father, and a man.

I apologize to the Mets’ organization, my teammates, and all my fans. I look forward to rejoining the Mets and being part of another World Series run. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has a statement as well:

My office has completed its investigation into the events leading up to Jeurys Familia’s arrest on October 31, 2016.  Mr. Familia and his wife cooperated fully throughout the investigation, including submitting to in-person interviews with MLB’s Department of Investigations.  My office also received cooperation from the Fort Lee Municipal Prosecutor.  The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on October 31, 2016.  Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline.

It is clear that Mr. Familia regrets what transpired that night and takes full responsibility for his actions.  Mr. Familia already has undergone 12 ninety-minute counseling sessions with an approved counselor specializing in the area of domestic violence, and received a favorable evaluation from the counselor regarding his willingness to take concrete steps to ensure that he is not involved in another incident of this type.  Further, he has agreed to speak to other players about what he has learned through this process, and to donate time and money to local organizations aimed at the prevention of, and the treatment of victims of, domestic violence.

2017 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Milwaukee Brewers.

Every year, Major League Baseball plays host to two casts of characters: the contenders and the rebuilders. You might find slight variations — the rebuilders who stand a chance of contending, the contenders on the verge of rebuilding, or those stuck somewhere in between — but by and large, the lines are clearly drawn.

The 2017 Brewers, for better or worse, are rebuilders. Sure, you won’t find them at the bottom of the NL Central come October (that place is unequivocally reserved for the Reds), but neither will you see them snag a Wild Card berth or run away with the division title. This is the year of cultivating a fertile farm system, giving their big league prospects room to stretch and grow and figuring out whether Ryan Braun has a future in Milwaukee beyond 2017.

If the Brewers did anything right this winter, it was deepening their reserves at nearly every position. Behind the plate, Andrew Susac, Manny Pina and newly-acquired Jett Bandy bandied for the spot. Susac injured his back during camp, and while the MRI results didn’t reveal any significant damage, it doesn’t look like he’ll be healthy in time for Opening Day. Milwaukee skipper Craig Counsell has yet to identify a full-time catcher and could start the year with Pina and Bandy in a hybrid role after both backstops impressed during spring training.

Eric Thames replaced Chris Carter at first base, and while he’s expected to split duties with Jesus Aguilar, appears to be an unconventional acquisition for the Brewers. On paper, the two look miles apart. Carter slashed .222/.321/.499 with 41 home runs and an .821 OPS for the club in 2016, pairing his league-leading homers with a league-leading 206 strikeouts. Thames, meanwhile, flamed out in the majors in 2012 and has not returned to the major league stage since. Never mind that he has only ever played the outfield or that he’s technically made only 181 big league appearances in the last five years, though. Over the past three seasons, he mashed an incredible .349/.457/.721 with 124 home runs and a 1.178 OPS for the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization, and the three-year, $16 million contract he signed with Milwaukee will look like a steal if he can replicate those numbers in the United States.

The outfield posed another set of questions for the team, who was looking to fill right and center field with a combination of Keon Broxton, Hernan Perez, Domingo Santana, Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kyle Wren. Broxton and Santana claimed spots in center and right, respectively, with Nieuwenhuis beating out the rest of the backup candidates to secure his position as the team’s fourth outfielder. Braun will resume his station in left field after a quiet spring training, during which he declined to participate in the World Baseball Classic or most of the Cactus League competition in order to stay healthy for the upcoming season. (At least, that’s one plausible reason. He also told the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal’s Todd Rosiak, “I just don’t feel like I need at-bats to feel ready for games.”)

Of course, every team in the throes of rebuilding has at least one weak spot, and the Brewers are no exception. The starting rotation lacks clarity and talent outside of Junior Guerra and Zach Davies, both of whom flourished in their sophomore campaigns with Milwaukee in 2016. The club acquired left-hander Tommy Milone on the cheap, adding him to a lengthy list of candidates that included right-handers Chase Anderson, Wily Peralta, Matt Garza and Jimmy Nelson. Spring training did little to illuminate a clear path for the rotation: Garza imploded, Peralta shone, and Nelson and Anderson proved inconsistent at best.

The bullpen doesn’t look much better beyond newly-minted closer Neftali Feliz, who signed a one-year, $5.35 million deal with the Brewers after polishing off a healthy, productive season with the Pirates in 2016. While his bounce-back season looked like a good omen for Milwaukee, Feliz struggled through a rough spring, working 10 hits, six runs, three walks and seven strikeouts through nine innings in camp. He appears to be fully recovered from the “biceps fatigue” that curtailed his last season in Pittsburgh, and Counsell believes that he’ll improve with more reps this spring.

Elsewhere in the bullpen, the club is hurting for left-handed relief after optioning their only lefty candidate, Brent Suter, to Triple-A Colorado Springs last week. A suitable replacement for Suter has yet to be named, but there’s some chatter that Milone could assume a position in the bullpen if necessary.

Overall, the Brewers didn’t improve their major league roster as much as they stabilized it, opting for low-cost stopgaps while they condition younger, less-seasoned players waiting to break through to the bigs. A plethora of high-caliber prospects crowd the upper rungs of their farm system, so much so that the club has had difficulty trying to find enough room for all of them to develop at the appropriate level. Just take Triple-A Colorado Springs, which boasts a talented outfield of Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips and rotation battles among Hiram Burgos, Josh Hader, Paolo Espino, Wilkerson, Taylor Jungmann, Wei-Chung Wang and the aforementioned Brent Suter, among others.

Milwaukee is looking at a bright future, to be sure, but that future won’t be fully realized right now. The Brewers’ 2017 season will undoubtedly be more satisfying for its front office than its fans, unless those fans also have a ticket to Security Service Field. Given a few more years to develop their prospects and build out their farm system, however, these rebuilders could begin to look something like contenders.

Prediction: 4th place in NL Central.