Comerica Park

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I went to Detroit over the weekend where I took in Saturday and Sunday’s Tigers-White Sox games. Such a wonderful time. Cool temperatures, no humidity, good company, good pitching, good food, good beer. It’s really all you could want.

As I watched these games and hung around a city that, no matter what else you can say about it, is a lot of fun and loves baseball, I occasionally checked in on Twitter and baseball blogs to see what sort of news was happening. Observed: the closer you are to real baseball and the more fun you’re having while watching it, the less any of that Alex Rodriguez and Biogenesis stuff matters. Even in Detroit, fans were 100% able to (a) talk about that news as intelligent baseball fans might; while (b) cheering for Jhonny Peralta like mad. It’s not either/or. That stuff doesn’t cast a shadow on the team or the season or anything. It’s just something happening.

Baseball is also happening. And it totally trumps that noise. Don’t let anyone wringing their hands over the Biogenesis stuff today and on for the next few weeks tell you differently. Anyway: this happened too:

Tigers 3, White Sox 2: Jim Leyland had the junior varsity in the lineup to start things — Andy Dirks and Don Kelly batting two and three — but once it got to the 12th inning Leyland had Miguel Cabrera (pinch hit single) and Torii Hunter (pinch hit to enter the game in the tenth and a game-winning single in his second at bat) bail the kids out. The White Sox ended their road trip 0-7 and they’ve lost ten in a row overall. Which, eww.

Blue Jays 6, Angels 5: Two in the eighth and two in the ninth help Toronto come back and avoid a sweep. The AP game story lead off by saying “The Toronto Blue Jays avoided a four-game sweep the hard way.” I agree that coming back late is a hard way, but there are harder ways to do it. For example, winning by forfeit when your manager realizes that the other team’s starting pitcher is actually one kid riding on another kid’s shoulders wearing an overcoat, thereby revealing that the other team has violated roster rules is extraordinarily difficult to pull off. La Russa did that once. No one else.

Dodgers 1, Cubs 0: You on point Fife? All the time, Tip. You on point Fife? All the time, Tip. You on point Fife? All the time, Tip. Well then grab the horsehide and let your pitch rip (Stephen Fife: 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 5K, weighs a buck 150, 36 waist). Also, WTF is up with the caption on this photo?

Cardinals 15, Reds 2: Well, the Cardinals offense seems to be doing better. They scored 13, 13 and 15 runs in three of their last four games, respectively. Now, after a tough road trip that took them through Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, they have one more tough assignment: the Dodgers at home.

Red Sox 4, Diamondbacks 0: Felix Doubront continues his remarkable consistency, shutting out the Dbacks for seven innings and making his 15th straight start in which he has given up three runs or fewer.

Royals 6, Mets 2: The Royals had a three-run fifth inning in which Marlon Byrd misplayed not one but two balls due to the sun. After the game Byrd said “I need to get better with sun balls.”  I wish the reporter he was talking to shot back with “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. — C. S. Lewis,” but I suppose that’s too much to ask of our decrepit educational system.

Mariners 3, Orioles 2:  Henry Blanco hit a two-run homer in the seventh to help the M’s to a win. Also: Henry Blanco is still alive and is playing baseball and everything. Kids: forget trying to perfect a curve ball. Forget trying to be a shortstop. Learn how to be a backup catcher and you’ll never be unemployed in your life.

Indians 2, Marlins 0: Scott Kazmir and three relievers combine for a shutout. It was the Indians’ major league-best 15th shutout this season. It was Cleveland’s 10th win in 11 games. Now they have four big ones against Detroit, trailing them by three games.

Rays 4, Giants 3: Wil Myers homered and the Rays’ bullpen tossed four and a third scoreless innings after Fauxsto Carmona struggled.

Pirates 5, Rockies 1: A.J. Burnett went the distance and struck out nine. Russell Martin hit a three-run homer. Some Yankees fan somewhere is trying to craft some argument about how what they’re doing matters less because they’re on the Pirates.

Twins 3, Astros 2: Twins sweep the Astros.  It was their first sweep and is their first three-game winning streak in over a month.

Brewers 8, Nationals 5: Down 4-1 in the sixth the Brewers put up a five-spot.  Jeff Bianchi’s bloop single over a drawn-in infield put Milwaukee ahead. He also had a squeeze bunt in the game. It was definitely a nice day for backup catchers.

Rangers 4, Athletics 0: Derek Holland tossed eight shutout innings with ten strikeouts. Ron Washington became the Rangers’ winningest manager of all time with this win. Which, honestly, I figured had happened a year or two ago, but I guess Johnny Oates was there longer than I realized. UPDATE: Or make that Bobby Valentine. Whatever.

Padres 6, Yankees 3: Yankees third basemen went 1 for 5. The lede for all game stories tomorrow should be “Thank God A-Rod is back!” But I figure they won’t be.

Braves 4, Phillies 1: Ten straight for the Bravos. Chris Johnson with a couple of RBI. Dude is batting .346. Not bad for a throw-in in the Justin Upton deal.

Collins worried David Wright might go on disabled list

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
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NEW YORK — Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York’s captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

“With the condition he’s been playing in and the condition he’s in right now, yeah, I’m concerned about it,” Collins said Monday. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

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 Monday’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)
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: