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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 9, Red Sox 6: All of the fireworks. All of the intrigue. All of the A-Rod. But this game really came down to the bullpens. The Yankees’ was fresh and effective, the Red Sox’ wasn’t. Our more thorough write-up can be read here. For now the Red Sox probably need to think less about which rats they want to punish and more about how to get guys out and how to protect a division lead which has been cut in half since Tuesday.

Marlins 6, Giants 5: Hero of the game, Jeff Mathis. He homered and hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth that just eluded Andres Torres’ dive. Worst part: The home run sculpture in the outfield in Miami got jammed and did not go off after Mathis’ home run. Which, jeez, if I had to play for that owner and that team the least I’d want is that sculpture to spin around and fart all over itself.

Tigers 6, Royals 3: Chalk up another win for Max Scherzer — his 18th — and another homer for Miguel Cabrera, his 40th. I’d be rather shocked if this wasn’t your Cy Young -MVP combo in the American League this year. The Tigers won three of five in this rare five-game series and I feel like that’s enough to put any hope of anyone in the AL Central challenging them to rest.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 2: That’s the end of the Dodgers’ ten-game winning streak thanks to not one but two ninth-inning errors from Hanley Ramirez. For the Phillies it was the first win — and first runs scored — of the Ryne Sandberg Administration.

Orioles 7, Rockies 2: Chris Davis went 4 for 5 with a double, a homer and a couple driven in. The homer was his 45th. Adam Jones had three hits including a two-run homer. So weird that last year they needed all the runs but had an awesome bullpen, this year they have been scoring just fine but have needed better relief. Baseball, man. Baseball.

Braves 2, Nationals 1: Julio Teheran tossed six scoreless. The Braves won two of three and now have a 15.5 game lead. All of this stupid beanball crap has reflected poorly on the Braves in my view — and Braves fans booing Harper like they did here is dumb — but it’s not going to amount to the stuff of rivalry until next year, it seems.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 1: Jose Lobaton hit a walk-off home run in the 10th. This goes with his walkoff triple on Friday. Now all he needs is the single and double for the walkoff cycle. That’s a thing, right?

Diamondbacks 4, Pirates 2: Sixteen innings. The Dbacks held the Pirates scoreless in the last 13 of those. Adam Eaton had four hits including the go-ahead double in that final frame. The Pirates dropped two of three — Saturday’s game in ugly fashion allowing 15 runs on 20 hits, this one with no punch at all — and have lost three straight series. Their division lead is down to one game. They need to find a way to stop the bleeding.

White Sox 5, Twins 2: Alexei Ramirez homered and had three RBI. Hector Santiago pitched in and out of trouble but got the win. After the game his manager, Robin Ventura, said it was like a root canal watching him pitch. He really did. Which, well, thanks, skip.

Reds 9, Brewers 1: Homer Bailey allowed one run in eight innings. Not that he needed to be so good, as Wily Peralta fooled no Reds batters and coughed up seven runs on eight hits in four and a third. Ryan Hanigan drove in three.

Mariners 4, Rangers 3: Kyle Seager with a go-ahead double in the ninth on a pitch from Joe Nathan at which he probably had no business swinging. The M’s take two of three from Texas.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 1: Adam Wainwright struck out 11 in seven innings to snag his 14th win. Jon Jay drove in four with a homer and a double. After a rough stretch St. Louis has now won five of seven and are only a game behind the Pirates. Now they get the pleasure of facing the punchless Brewers for three games. After that, though, 17 straight against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

Astros 7, Angels 5: Matt Dominguez hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning and the Astros take two of three. They took two of three from the A’s before that, so that’s a pretty nice stretch for them. Mike Trout left the game with some hamstring tightness, but he doesn’t think it’s serious.

Padres 4, Mets 3: A walkoff homer for Will Venable to lead off the ninth. He also drove in a run in the fifth. He now has a 15-game hitting streak.

Athletics 7, Indians 3: Chris Young and Alberto Callaspo homered in the fifth inning. Josh Donaldson drove in three. Lots of good defense from the A’s too.  Oakland is now only a half game behind Texas. Cleveland has lost six of its last seven in the Coliseum.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]