Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Twins 10, Astros 6: Rookie and independent league veteran Chris Colabello homered twice including a grand slam to break a 6-6 tie in the ninth. Entering Sunday he was on an 0 for 23 skid and now here he is having the best day of his life. Probably the best day he’ll ever have at a ballpark.

Athletics 4, Rangers 2: Coco Crisp broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run homer in the fifth and now the AL West is tied. I feel like it’s going to go down to the last day once again.

Blue Jays 4, Diamondbacks 1: Esmil Rogers pitched six and a third innings of one-hit ball, winning his first game since June 18. The Dbacks hit into four double plays, including twin killings that ended the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

Dodgers 10, Rockies 8: Clayton Kershaw didn’t have a great day, allowing five runs on 11 hits in five innings. And Yasiel Puig left with a strained knee. Still, the Dodgers won because the Dodgers always seem to win. Well, that and because the Rockies are pretty bad. Andre Eithier homered, doubled and drove in three.

Padres 4, Giants 1: For the first time in 12 starts against NL West opponents this year, Ian Kennedy got the win. Not exactly what you’d expect for a guy who won 20 for an NL West team just two years ago, but the Padres will take it. Barry Zito lost his eighth straight decision as he winds down his career in San Francisco.

Orioles 7, Indians 2: Justin Masterson left early with a sore side and the Indians wild card chances feel like they’re leaving with him. Nate McLouth homers and had three RBI. Bud Norris allowed only one run in seven, improving to 4-1 as an O. The Orioles are one and a half back in the wild card.

Marlins 4, Cubs 3: Henderson Alvarez hit his first career home run, helping his own cause as he pitched six innings allowing three runs. He also pulled his hamstring so, yeah, kind of a mixed bag day.

Pirates 5, Brewers 2: Pittsburgh regains sole possession of first with this win — thanks to a solid effort from Charlie Morton — and the Cardinals’ loss. This was win number 80 for the Pirates. One more to break the string of losing seasons, two more to have their first winning season since 1992.

Royals 4, Mariners 1: Felix Hernandez loses his fourth straight start and left the game with a sore back in the seventh. Royals starter Danny Duffy wasn’t any great shakes either, but he was relieved by Will Smith who struck out eight in four and a third innings of relief. Five of Smith’s strikeouts came on three pitches so, hey, great effort Seattle.

Reds 7, Cardinals 2: An awful day for the Cards as Yadier Molina left early due to a sore left wrist and Adam Wainwright got shelled by the Reds for the second straight start. Meanwhile Mat Latos was sharp. The Cards fall a game behind Pittsburgh. The Reds are 3.5 out.

Tigers 3, Red Sox 0: So Miguel Cabrera? No problem. At least once the seventh inning started and the Tigers were finally able to get to John Lackey a bit. No Red Sox bat got to Doug Fister, who tossed seven shutout innings.

Braves 13, Mets 5: Freddie Freeman hit a homer and had five RBI. Daisuke Matsuzaka was shelled and was his usual slow, frustrating inefficient self. You have to wonder if this wasn’t his last major league start.

Yankees 9, White Sox 1: Man the White Sox look awful. Derek Jeter had a couple of RBI singles and the Yankees scored eight in the fourth inning. Bad defense by the Sox, lots of rain, lots of overall sloppy play. This looked like Tampa in February, not New York in September.

Phillies 3, Nationals 2: Hamels beats Strasburg despite a sore back and a crappy bullpen session, allowing only two hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in seven innings. The Nats little surge toward the wild card seems to have been somewhat illusory.

Angels 11, Rays 2: Erick Aybar drove in four and the entire Angels lineup had a nice night roughing up the heretofore reliable Chris Archer. Not that Garrett Richards was much better for the Angels. He walked seven dudes, but the Rays couldn’t take advantage and now find themselves the losers of five straight.

Dusty Baker calls the Nationals “a baby making team.” Whatever that means.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 31: Manager Dusty Baker #12 of the Washington Nationals looks on before the start of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 31, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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When the Nationals fired Matt Williams a year ago, it might’ve been a safe assumption that they were going to go with that new breed of young, handsome recently-retired player-turned-manager who, despite a lack of experience, allegedly knows how to deal with modern players better and knows how to handle a clubhouse. Those assumptions have proved largely off with these guys — Williams was a disaster, Matheny wins despite himself and Ausmus looks like he’s perpetually on the verge of a breakdown — but that’s the all the rage these days anyway.

Instead, the Nats hired Dusty Baker. Though Baker had tremendous success as a manager everywhere he went, he was maligned by some for some pitcher handling stuff in Chicago (which said pitchers have long denied was an issue, but let’s let that lie). He was also, more generally, thought of as a “retread.” Which is what people who prefer younger folks for jobs tend to call older people, even if the older people know what they’re doing.

And yes, I will cop to thinking about managers that way a lot over the years, so I’m not absolving myself at all here, even if I was pretty OK with the Dusty Baker hiring. I’ve evolved on this point. In no small part because of how Dusty Baker has done in Washington. Flash forward a year, the Nats are division champions and Baker may be a top candidate for Manager of the Year. That, in and of itself, should show you how wrong the haters were.

But if it doesn’t, this sure should:

I have no earthly idea what that means and Castillo gives no further context. All I know is that it sounds cool as hell and of any current manager, only Dusty Baker could say that and pull it off.

Because he’s Dusty Baker and has nothing to prove to you. And if you don’t like it, shoot, he’ll just go back home to his winery or whatever and live out the rest of his days being cooler than you.

Who should win the manager of the year awards? Who Will?

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 15:  Manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dougout during the seventh inning of a MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Manager of the Year Awards

The Manager of the Year Award is pretty dumb. Numbers aren’t everything in any award, but there are literally zero numbers that gauge a manager’s effectiveness or performance apart from wins and losses and wins and losses are mostly a function of talent on the roster, for which the manager is not responsible. This is not to say managers aren’t important. Of course they are! They make important decisions every day and keep the clubhouse running smoothly and that’s important. It just so happens to be unquantifiable and subject to anecdote and projection.

For instance, Matt Williams won the Manager of the Year Award with he Nationals in 2014. He was run out of town on a rail in 2015. Did he suddenly forget how to manage? Or did he never really know but was blessed with good fortune and better players the year before?

Joe Maddon won the award last year, in large part because the Cubs outperformed expectations. This year the Cubs are the best team around. But everyone expected them to be because of all that talent! Does that mean that Maddon’s 2015 award was fraudulent? The product of poor expectations assessment on behalf of the media? At the same time, there’s a pretty strong vibe that he won’t win it this year, so are we to say that winning between 101 and 104 games is . . . a worse job than last year? Don’t even get me started on arguments that Bruce Bochy somehow became a lesser manager this year, because I suspect — and bear with me on this — something else is going on with the Giants.

Manager of the Year has always been about narratives and expectations of people on the outside looking in who nonetheless purport to know how the manager performed his job in the most inside baseball kinds of ways. It’s poppycock. It may as well be the Golden Globes.

So, rather than just break it down the way we did the other awards, let’s just thrown this out like the big mess that it is:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Bill and Ashley say that Terry Francona should be the American League Manager of the Year. Bill’s reasoning: “The Indians went essentially the whole year without Michael Brantley and their pitching staff imploded in September. Francona deserves a lot of credit for holding the team together.”

Hey, works for me too! Let’s give it to Tito. Even if we can tell a compelling story about John Farrell and the Red Sox and even if Jeff Banister, the reigning AL Manager of the Year, improved by anywhere from 6-9 games in the standings this year over last in a division most people thought the Astros would win.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Bill says Dusty Baker, arguing that “The Nationals had all kinds of bullpen issues and Stephen Strasburg wasn’t able to pitch the final two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker.”

Ashley says Dave Roberts. She didn’t give me her reasoning, but I bet she’d agree with me if I said “The Nationals Dodgers had all kinds of bullpen rotation issues and Stephen Strasburg Clayton Kershaw wasn’t able to pitch for two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker Roberts.” You could throw in some stuff about how Yasiel Puig was managed by Roberts (i.e. better, though his come-to-Jesus demotion may have been the front office’s doing). I think I’ll go with Roberts, simply because I feel like it’d be bad precedent to give it to a Nationals manager every even numbered year simply because that dang franchise is inconsistent.

What about the Cubs? Here’s Bill again:

I considered Joe Maddon of the Cubs, but the team was so good I think the Cubs could’ve had a kitten manage the team to a playoff berth.

I say we give it to a kitten. Kittens are the best.