Alejandro De Aza,

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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All kinds of comebacks on Wednesday. Let’s call it “Comeback Wednesday!” — wait, what? Really? OK, sorry folks. The people in the marketing department said that’s impossibly lame. They’re working on something centering around the idea of “Extreme Comebacks” but they want to focus group it first. We’ll let you know.

White Sox 6, Yankees 5: Alejandro De Aza smacked a game-winning triple in the 12th. Mariano Rivera blew the save in the ninth, the Yankees blew another lead in the 12th and with it they were swept by a White Sox team that came into the series on a ten-game losing jag. This pretty much has to be what rock bottom looks like, right? Oh well, on the bright side Rivera’s blown save was significant: with it he tied Trevor Hoffman on the all-time blown saves list. When you think about it, you gotta be pretty good to blow a lot of saves.

Mets 5, Rockies 0: Matt Harvey shut ’em out on just four hits and 106 pitches, striking out six and walking no one. On the year he’s 9-3 with a 2.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 178/29 K/BB ratio in 159 2/3 innings. Tough stuff.

Orioles 10, Padres 3: Chris Davis absolutely crushed a baseball — sending it 453 feet — for his 41st homer during Baltimore’s four-run eighth inning. They tacked on three in the ninth. After the game Bud Black said “[w]e had a little bit of a breakdown in our bullpen.” Gee, ya think?

Reds 6, Athletics 5: Bartolo Colon got roughed up pretty good, surrendering five runs and failing to escape the third inning. After the game he said he had some stomach trouble. That’s no small concern when Colon is involved. A homer and three RBI for Jay Bruce.

Mariners 9, Blue Jays 7: A couple of comebacks. The M’s were down 7-2 when they came to bat in the fourth and were up 9-7 after five. That made for a rough return to action for J.A. Happ who had been out since being struck by a batted ball and suffering a fractured skull back in May. Better a bad comeback from that than no comeback at all.

Tigers 6, Indians 5: It took them 14 innings, but the Tigers continued their mastery of the Tribe and collected their 11th straight win. Eleven of twelve over Cleveland. Miguel Cabrera with a big two-run homer in the eighth and Prince Fielder with the ultimately game-winning two-run double in the 14th.

Braves 6, Nationals 3: That’s thirteen straight wins for Atlanta, as they complete the sweep of the Nats. Justin Upton doubled and homered. After the game Fredi Gonzalez revealed that for every win he has been given some protein drink by Braves players and superstition obligates him to continue drinking it. What is it? He doesn’t know. “They may be giving me poop. I don’t even know what it is,” he said. It’s poop, isn’t it? Tell me it’s poop.

Cubs 5, Phillies 2: Hero of the game, Donnie Murphy, who hit a three-run homer in the ninth to go with an earlier solo shot. He had one the day before too. What the heck, man?

Royals 5, Twins 2: Danny Duffy couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning, but he and five relievers combine for 16 strikeouts of Twins hitters.

Pirates 4, Marlins 2: Charlie Morton started rough but settled down and ended up throwing seven strong innings. He also Helped His Own Cause with an RBI single. The Pirates continue to maintain the best record in baseball.

Red Sox 7, Astros 5: Stephen Drew hit a three-run homer in the ninth to bring the Sox back from behind. A five-run comeback on Tuesday night, a three-run comeback last night. Indeed, it was the sixth time in its last seven wins in which Boston has come from behind.

Rangers 10, Angels 3: And with that, the Rangers are back atop the AL West. Well, tied. One behind in the loss column, but they do have a share of the lead for the first time since July 1. A homer and three RBI for Adrian Beltre.

Dodgers 13, Cardinals 4: All kinds of bad for the Cards as they get their clock cleaned and they lose Shelby Miller after just two pitches. Good news: he says he feels OK and should make his next start. As for the Dodgers, Andre Ethier and Skip Schumaker each had three hits and four RBIs while Carl Crawford had four hits and a walk.

Diamondbacks 9, Rays 8: A double comeback as the snakes found themselves down 3-0 and then 8-7 late. Martin Prado won it, though, with a two run double in the ninth. On the day he was 4 for 4 with a homer and four driven in.

Brewers 6, Giants 1: Marco Estrada was excellent in a spot start, shutting out the Giants for five innings on one hit. This one was 0-0 into the seventh inning before the Giants scored to make it 1-0, so I guess we can say there was a comeback here as well.

Still waiting to hear from the focus group, but I’m really liking the branding opportunities from last night.

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.