David Nied

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Rockies 4, Marlins 3: The Rockies won this game but the Marlins took the 1993 Expansion Cup for this season, closing out the year with a 4-3 record against Colorado. What — you don’t keep track of the 1993 Expansion Cup? There’s a great ceremony at the end of the series each year in which either David Neid or Nigel Wilson hand the other a teal-and-purple loving cup while “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect in plays over the loudspeaker. It’s one of the most majestic events in sports each year. And you weren’t aware of it? For shame.

Giants 4, Pirates 0: What this season could have been if Ryan Vogelsong had pitched like he did last year. Of course last year was kind of a shocker, so I guess it was too much to ask. He was oh so good yesterday afternoon, however, throwing eight innings of shutout ball against the Pirates to earn the series split.

Blue Jays 2, Astros 1: Shut out for eight innings, the Jays rallied for both of their two runs in the ninth. That spoiled a nice day for Dallas Keuchel, who tossed seven shutout innings. It was a nice pick-me-up for Mark Buehrle, however, who allowed one run over eight and otherwise would have had a pretty damn tough luck loss.

Braves 5, Cardinals 2: The Bravos salvage one against the Cardinals, avoiding a four-game sweep behind a nice outing from Mike Minor. Finally a decent game for Jordan Schafer, who hit a double, a triple and drove in a run. In the three previous games filling in the leadoff spot for Jason Heyward Schafer had gone 0 for 12 with five strikeouts.

Royals 6, Nationals 4: The Royals finally pull out of the seven-game losing skid that basically cost them any hope at the playoffs. A key play in this game: Billy Butler chugging down the line to first base while Adam LaRoche chased a ball he had knocked down but which had eluded him. I reckon we haven’t seen two slower guys in a race on the same play since the 1950s.

Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 5: Not a bad day for Roy Halladay considering he has only had a couple of minor league rehab starts — neither of which were spectacular — and given that he was basically rushed into service after Ryne Sandberg had to empty his bullpen and then some during Saturday night’s marathon game. Halladay threw six innings of two-run ball. He struck only two and his fastball is a shadow of its former self. But as we said back in the spring: the rest of Halladay’s career appears to be contingent upon him learning to be a crafty, old, occasionally junkballing vet. If he can do that, we may have several years left of him. If not, we’re nearing the end.

White Sox 5, Rangers 2: Sox’ bench coach Mark Parent was ejected from the games while exchanging lineup cards which, OK, that had to be some conversation. I’m going to pretend he did it to rally the Pale Hose. If so, it worked,with  John Danks tossing six solid innings and the bats tuning up Matt Garza for five runs over seven.

Yankees 3, Rays 2: The Yankees always seem to have trouble down in St. Pete and this series was no exception. They salvaged one here, however, thanks to Curtis Granderson driving in Alfonso Soriano with a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning

Tigers 11, Mets 3: The sweep. Miguel Cabrera went 3 for 4 with a homer and a walk and finished the series 7 for 13 with two homers and five RBIs. He’s hitting .360 now and he’s not even remotely healthy. Just amazing.

Orioles 10, Athletics 3: A good weekend for Baltimore.  J.J. HardyNick Markakis and Nate McLouth homered and the O’s took two of three from Oakland. That moves them to within two games of the Athletics for the second wild card.

Brewers 3, Reds 1: Marco Estrada had his changeup working and he allowed one hit and no runs over seven innings. Caleb Gindl with a two-run homer for the winning margin.

Indians 3, Twins 1: Four errors for the Tribe and a load of base running mistakes but the Twins couldn’t really capitalize. Then Drew Stubbs hit a tiebreaking, two-out homer in the eighth.

Angels 7, Mariners 1: The M’s scored two runs in the entire three-game series. Not too damn inspiring for the folks in Seattle. Jered Weaver stymied them here yesterday, allowing one run on three hits in eight innings while striking out eight.

Padres 3, Cubs 2 : It was 0-0 until the 13th when both teams scored two and then the Pads finally won it on with an RBI single in the 15th. Those two runs a piece in the 13th were the product of some odd plays — wild pitches and baserunners being plunked on the head with thrown balls — all of which added up to five hours and thirteen minutes of weird baseball.

Red Sox 8, Dodgers 1: Jake Peavy was fantastic, tossing a complete game on three hits. Mike Napoli drove in three. The Dodgers dropped their first series since mid-June.

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]