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.

Indians sign reliever Tommy Hunter to $2 million deal

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that right-hander Tommy Hunter has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Indians. It’s a major-league deal, so Hunter gets a spot on the 40-man roster and will be in the Opening Day bullpen if he’s fully recovered from core muscle surgery.

Hunter split last season between the Orioles and Cubs, totaling 60 innings with a 4.18 ERA and 47/14 K/BB ratio. He had a sub-3.00 ERA in both 2013 and 2014, and has generally been a setup-caliber reliever since shifting to the bullpen full time.

He has good control and a mid-90s fastball, but Hunter has never missed many bats despite the big-time velocity and often struggles to keep the ball in the ballpark. He’ll likely fill a middle relief role in Cleveland initially.

“YER OUT!” Jenrry Mejia permanently suspended for a third positive PED test

Jenrry Mejia
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You knew someone would be dumb enough to do this eventually, you just didn’t know who. Now we do: MLB just announced that reliever Jenrry Mejia has been permanently suspended after testing positive for Boldenone. That was his third positive test and under the Joint Drug Agreement that means his career is more or less over.

Mejia’s three strikes came in pretty rapid succession. On April 11, 2015 it was announced that Mejía had been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for use of stanozolol. On July 28, 2015 it was announced that Mejia had failed a test for Stanozolol again and Boldenone to boot, giving him a 162-game suspension, which he’d still be serving at the beggining of the season. Now this third test.

Mejia has played five seasons in the big. He started with so much promise, looking like a great prospect coming up. His performance only matched the promise in fits and starts, however, resulting in a 9-14 record with a 3.68 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 162/76 in 183.1 innings, all with the Mets.

Per the rules of the Joint Drug Agreement, Mejia can apply for reinstatement after being banned for two years. But it would obviously require him to spend two years doing a lot of smart things he hasn’t been doing in the past year. And it would also represent a near-unprecedented comeback. It could happen, I suppose, but it’s a far safer bet that his career is over.

I’m going to break it to you: some teams will stink this year. Like every year.

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There’s an AP story out today talking about how — brace yourself — some teams are going to be bad this year. It’s true. There are some teams, such as Atlanta, Philly, Colorado, Cincinnati and probably Milwaukee who seem certain to lose a lot of games.  The article’s author notes that, while a lot of money was spent in free agency this winter, not everyone was spending. He says “for some clubs, 2016 is basically over before it starts when it comes to contending.”

That sort of framing sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? Isn’t it exactly the sort of thing we heard back in the early 2000s when people were still stumping for salary caps? Boston and New York were outspending everyone, the low money teams couldn’t keep up and, as spring training dawned, the season was over before it even began for half the league at least. There were scads of articles like that written 10-15 years ago. Bud Selig and others even used that exact construction — teams going to spring training already knowing they couldn’t compete — as points of rhetoric in the leadup to the 2002 labor battle with the players. Indeed, here’s the exact language from the 2000 Blue Ribbon economic report that Bud Selig commissioned which, by the way, should be read as a piece of labor propaganda, not as an actually useful or illuminative report:

What has made baseball’s recent seasons disturbing, and what makes its current economic structure untenable in the long run, is that, year after year, too many clubs know in spring training that they have no realistic prospect of reaching postseason play. Too many clubs in low-revenue markets can only expect to compete for postseason berths if ownership is willing to incur staggering operating losses to subsidize a competitive player payroll.

Different circumstances, obviously, but the same general bogeyman: some teams have no chance to compete!

Using that as the concern for whatever ails baseball has never made much sense to me as there will always be teams that are bad. Really, go look at any year’s league standings going back to the 19th century and there will be bad teams. It’s sort of the other side of the coin of good teams. Hard to have one without the other. And it’s probably a good thing to have some good and some and teams. Who wants a total crapshoot every year? What is this, Lake Woebegone, where every team is above .500? God, how boring.

The real issue is not that some teams will be good and some will be bad. It’s why they’ll be good and why they’ll be bad and whether the dynamic which creates good and bad teams is itself positive or negative for the game.

In the 40s and 50s, almost the entire American League knew that it had no chance to compete with the Yankees but they kind of liked that because they were making a lot of money not fielding competitive clubs. That was bad. In the late 1990s maybe some felt the same way too and it was because of no revenue sharing or incompetent management. Not great, and a lot of tweaks were made. Now a small handful of teams can’t compete because they’re doing wholesale rebuilds which some people call “tanking” and others think is not an issue.

As I recently wrote, to the extent people do think “tanking” is a problem, it’s important to (a) put it in perspective; and (b) look at the incentives teams have to tank and talk about whether they should be adjusted. As far as the perspective part goes, I’d say that only having five or six out of 30 teams with no realistic shot is actually pretty good compared to other points in baseball history. There’s a lot more parity now than there used to be. As far as the incentives: look at the dumb draft rules which were imposed to save owners a buck when it came to paying amateurs but which GREATLY increases the importance of picking high and thus losing.

The AP article touches on that, but it’s buried fairly deep down, well after the hand-wringing about teams entering spring training with no chance to win. As spring training progresses, there will likely be a lot of talk of just how bad some of these rebuilding teams will be as well. Most of that analysis will stop at the current state of the team and the hopelessness the fan bases are supposed to be feeling.

As a critically-minded fan, don’t let it stop there. If your team stinks, think about why it does and why it’s pursuing the course it is. Twenty years ago you could probably be safe in saying “well, my team’s GM is dumb and the owner is cheap.” That’s not really the case for most teams now. Now, I think, it’s far more about the incentives in play which make putting a lousy product on the field in the short term preferable to not doing so. Call it tanking, call it whatever you want, but if this is concern for you — and if this is a problem for Major League Baseball — the focus needs to be on the incentives.  Not on the fact that some teams are going to stink. Because teams will always stink. The important question is why.

Marlins sign left-hander Craig Breslow

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After spending the past four seasons in the Red Sox’s bullpen left-hander Craig Breslow has signed with the Marlins on a minor-league deal.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the contract comes with an invitation to spring training and will pay $1.5 million if Breslow makes the Opening Day roster.

Brewslow has struggled in back-to-back seasons, posting a 5.96 ERA in 2014 and a 4.15 ERA last year. At age 35 he’s not a great bet to bounce back in a huge way, but Breslow posted a 1.81 ERA as recently as 2013 and is certainly still capable of being a useful middle reliever.