Baltimore Orioles v Arizona Diamondbacks

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Diamondbacks 4, Orioles 3: Paul Goldschmidt homered to tie it in the ninth, homered to win it in the 11th. It’s perhaps too late for this, but memo to Buck Showalter: maybe don’t pitch to Paul Goldschmidt. Two walkoff wins in a row for the Dbacks. Their ninth walkoff win of the year.

Yankees 14, Angels 7: Another two-homer performance, this one from Alfonso Soriano, who drove in six. As we’ve said a couple of times this week: nice career, Alfonso Soriano.

Mariners 5, Rays 4: A two-homer leadoff hitter show as the Mariners leadoff guy Brad Miller hit two homers as did the Rays leadoff hitter Ben Zobrist. After the game their managers each made them do pushups, Willie Mays Hayes-style, for hitting the ball in the air.

Brewers 5, Rangers 1: Another two-homer performance, this one from Scooter Gennett, whose bombs happened to be the first and second of his career. His teammates gave him the now ubiquitous “silent treatment” for his first homer, pretending not to acknowledge it for some time after he returned to the dugout. I think this is played out and teams need to go to the next level with this first-home-run hazing. How about this: they treat him as usual, giving him high-fives, then, after the game, the GM sends him down to Triple-A. He keeps up the joke until the player packs his bags, gets a flight to Nashville, plays in multiple minor league games and the starts to question whether or not he should go back home and start working for dad’s plumbing business. A couple of years later, as he finally locks up all of his baseball memorabilia in a closet he will never open again due to the overwhelming emotion such objects of his failed past bring, the GM calls him back and says “Haha, got ya!”

Nationals 4, Giants 2: Four wins in a row for Washington, which is nice. Not that it’s (a) getting them any closer to a playoff spot; or (b) making everyone in the dugout all happy.

Braves 3, Phillies 1: Kris Medlen hasn’t been anywhere close to as good this year as he was last year, but he’s turning it around. He notched his fourth straight win and is now 10-10 on the season. Phillies starter Ethan Martin has three major league starts under his belt. Two of them have been losses to Kris Medlen and the Braves. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson keeps hitting. He hit a two-run homer and leads the NL with a .337 average.

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2: A come-from-behind win with Shane Victorino knocking in two in the 11th inning. He also gunned down a runner at the plate earlier in the game. For a guy whose contract caused a lot of people to mock the Red Sox in the offseason, he’s been pretty darn useful for the Red Sox.

Reds 6, Cubs 4: Yet another extra-innings game. There were six in all last night.  Shin-Soo Choo did what Shane Victorino did — he hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the 11th inning — and Reds reliever J.J. Hoover shut out the Cubs on one hit in two and a third innings of work. He has a scoreless innings streak of 24 and two-thirds.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3: A fourteen-inning tilt for the two best teams in the NL Central, with Adron Chambers singling home the winning run for St. Louis just before this game hit the five-hour mark. Thirteen pitchers and twenty-six position players were used in the game between both teams.

Padres 7, Rockies 5: Down 4-1 after the first inning the Padres didn’t fold. Nick Hundley homered and drove in two runs, Will Venable had three hits and San Diego put up four runs of their own in the second to give them a rare win over the Rockies.

White Sox 4, Tigers 3: Detroit is slumping. Recent ex-Tiger Avisail Garcia had two hits, drove in two and scored the winning run on Alejandro De Aza’s bases-loaded single in the 11th inning to give the pale hose a walkoff win.

Marlins 1, Royals 0: Jose Fernandez and Bruce Chen matched each other with seven, three-hit, six-strikeout scoreless innings. The Royals bullpen cracked first, however, although not until the tenth when Kelvin Herrera hit Jake Marisnick with a pitch, allowed him to steal second and then gave up the go-ahead RBI single to Christian Yelich.

Dodgers 4, Mets 2: Even Matt Harvey can’t stop the Los Angeles juggernaut. They win their seventh straight behind seven innings of one-run ball from Hyun-Jin Ryu. Dodgers starters are 13-1 with a 1.72 ERA in their last 18 games.

Indians 5, Twins 2: A much-needed win for the Tribe, which had lost seven of eight coming in. Zach Mcallister allowed on earned run in six, the bullpen held firm and Ryan Raburn hit a homer.

Astros 5, Athletics 4: Another bad outing for Bartolo Colon, who could be running out of gas at an inopportune time for Oakland. The Astros hit him up for five runs on seven hits in four innings. Meanwhile, Jordon Lyles allowed one run in seven.

Jose Fernandez was in the middle of baseball’s culture war

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins and Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves have words after a solo home run by Fernandez in the sixth inning during a game  at Marlins Park on September 11, 2013 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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A lot has been written since news of Jose Fernandez’s death broke early Sunday morning. Fernandez will be remembered fondly for the way he seemed to never stop smiling and for the way he competed on the field. Having already won the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year, it seemed inevitable that Fernandez would one day win a Cy Young Award. We were truly watching one of the best arms of this era and that was paired with a terrific personality. The combination is quite rare and the sport made so much better in the four years during which Fernandez pitched.

Fernandez defected to the United States four times and was sent to prison after each of the first three unsuccessful attempts. On the fourth attempt, his mother was thrown overboard in choppy waters and Fernandez dove in to rescue her. Fernandez risked everything to come to the United States to play baseball and seek a better life for himself and his family. If anyone had a right to tell other players to “play the game the right way” or to “respect the game,” it would have been Fernandez. But he never did. He played every game like it was his first. He savored his time out on the baseball field.

When Fernandez somehow snagged a Troy Tulowitzki line drive, Tulo stopped in his tracks to ask him, “Did you catch that?” Fernandez, flashing his trademark smile, replied, “Yeah, I did.”

When Giancarlo Stanton hit a monster home run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, Fernandez cheered like he had just won the lottery.

Most memorably, Fernandez took a moment to take in his first career home run, hit on September 12, 2013 against the Braves. He lifted a 1-0 Mike Minor change-up for a no-doubt home run just in front of the Clevelander sign beyond the left field fence at Marlins Mark. Fernandez took his time circling the bases and, as he passed third base, Chris Johnson chirped at him. Catcher Brian McCann confronted him at home plate and shortly thereafter, both benches emptied. Even during this tense moment, Fernandez was seen smiling. In the dugout, he had an expression on his face that seemed to say, “Really?”

Fernandez was not the most central figure in baseball’s culture war, but as one of baseball’s best and most well-known players, he was certainly in the middle with the likes of Yasiel Puig, Jose Bautista, and Carlos Gomez. The war was about baseball’s “unwritten rules” which were devised by a homogeneous group of players decades ago and still followed today, still a rather homogeneous group. Newer players, an increasingly diverse group, were expected to adhere to these rules despite the fact that many of them played the game in a culture where emotion and exuberance were a normal part of the game.

Fernandez’s death should be a reminder that, when all is said and done, baseball is just a game and we’re meant to have fun with it. He was the embodiment of fun on the baseball field. In his memory, players should admire their handiwork on the field. Flip a bat after hitting a foul ball, like Odubel Herrera. Bat flip a fly out, like Puig. Players should laugh and pump their fists and cheer as if they might never have a chance to do it again. Because they might not.

Jose Fernandez was remarkable on and off the field

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Pitcher Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins poses for photos on media day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 24, 2016 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
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Jose Fernandez’s love for baseball was born in Santa Clara, Cuba. It was there, alongside childhood friend and St. Louis Cardinal Aledmys Diaz, that he devoted hours to makeshift games of baseball. Often alone, often without a teammate, a playing field, or even a baseball, Fernandez would spend hours lobbing baseball-sized rocks in the air, hitting them with sticks, and circling imaginary bases.

The dream was to play in the Cuban National Series, a 16-team league that formed when the original Cuban League disbanded in 1961. When Fernandez became a teenager, however, his stepfather, Ramon Jimenez, defected to the United States. It took Jimenez 13 attempts before he made a successful escape, and soon he sent for his wife and children. Whatever baseball aspirations Fernandez had took a backseat to his own treacherous journey from Cuba to Florida.

After two unsuccessful attempts and two months in a Cuban prison, 15-year-old Fernandez, his mother, and his stepsister tried again. The voyage was tumultuous; at one point, Fernandez’s mother fell overboard. Fernandez dove in after her and helped her swim 30 yards back to the boat. It took another month and change before Fernandez was settled in Florida with his family, and from there, his baseball career appeared to flourish overnight. He enrolled in Braulio Alonso High School and pitched during two championship runs with the Florida Class 6A state champions, working a 13-1 record and 2.85 ERA in his senior year with two no-hitters.

By 2011, several weeks before his 19th birthday, Fernandez was selected by the Miami Marlins in the first round of the MLB draft. His ascension through the minor leagues was even more remarkable. In his first season with Single-A Greensboro, Fernandez contributed six innings of a combined no-hitter, pitched to a combined 1.75 ERA and 158 strikeouts between Greensboro and Advanced-A Jupiter, and was distinguished as the preeminent Marlins minor league pitcher of the year.

If the transition from Miami’s minor league circuit to the big league stage was a rocky one, Fernandez hid it well. He debuted with the Marlins on April 17, 2013, holding the Mets to five innings of one-run ball and striking out eight of 19 batters. Only six major league pitchers under 21 years old had struck out at least eight batters during their major league debut; at 20 years old, Fernandez was the seventh.

The rest of his rookie season was no less groundbreaking. Fernandez worked a 2.19 ERA, second only to Clayton Kershaw’s 1.83 mark among qualified starting pitchers, appeared in his first All-Star Game, was named Rookie of the Month in two consecutive months, and capped his year with a staggering 4.1 fWAR. The Marlins didn’t just find their next ace in Fernandez; they found one of the best starting pitchers of the decade.

This isn’t to say that Fernandez was perfect — no player is. Reports surfaced in November 2015 that the 23-year-old hurler was working under a strained relationship with the Marlins’ brass, refusing to adhere to dugout protocol and asking president of baseball operations Michael Hill when he would be traded. Per Andy Slater of slaterscoops.com, the higher-ups in the Marlins’ organization weren’t the only ones frustrated with their star pitcher. Casey McGehee reprimanded Fernandez for showing up late to the clubhouse, and unnamed players also expressed their hope that Fernandez would struggle on the mound in future starts as a consequence for his arrogant behavior.

Following the report, several players stepped forward in Fernandez’s defense. According to a report by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the worst criticism levied at Fernandez was that he occasionally acted his age. (Brian McCann, who confronted Fernandez in a benches-clearing brawl after the rookie’s first career home run, might have agreed.) Others, like right-handers Dan Haren and Tom Koehler, vocalized their support for the pitcher despite any underlying tension surrounding his potential departure.

Whether or not the rumors had merit, Fernandez was spared the chopping block during his lengthy recovery process in 2014 and 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. In 2016, he again proved his dominance on the mound. Through 186 ⅔ innings, the 24-year-old posted 16 wins, a staggering 12.49 K/9 rate, a 2.86 ERA and career-high 6.2 fWAR. It should have been just the second outstanding season of a lengthy career; instead, it was his last.

In the wake of today’s tragedy, it is difficult to dwell on Fernandez’s professional accomplishments. We know that he was more than the sum of his innings pitched in Miami, more than a feel-good story or a testament to the resilience of other players who defected from their home countries in pursuit of a better life. By all reports, he was a man of incredible courage, a cherished son and grandson, and a remarkable talent on the field. His life, as with any other, should be valued not for what he did or did not do, but simply because he existed.