Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians

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.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.