Zero Effect

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 1, Marlins 0: There were 12 pitchers in this game. Eleven of them didn’t allow any runs, including both starters, Dillon Gee and Tom Koehler. Travis d’Arnaud singled off Zach Phillips in the 12th for the game’s only run. All of those zeroes made me think of one of my favorite movies of all time. Quite possibly my very favorite movie of the 90s. I won’t tell you what it is, but I can give you a hint in figuring it out by offering a few words on looking for things: Remember that when you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you’re only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you’re sure to find some of them.

And no, it’s not “Miller’s Crossing.” Which, now that I think of it may be my favorite movie of the 90s. The one I’m thinking of is, like, 1A, though. And should have been a series of movies or TV movies or maybe a TV series because, man, it was so good and if you haven’t seen it quit denying yourself, man.

Padres 4, Braves 0: Burch Smith —  who sounds more like a character from a romance novel than a pitcher — struck out ten and got his first win. I didn’t see the game but I’m imagining Burch Smith looks like this.

Athletics 5, Rangers 1: What a late surge for the A’s. What a late swoon for the Rangers. The A’s sweep, giving them a six and a half game lead in the division, which effectively gives them the division title. Meanwhile the Rangers are now tied with the Rays in the wild card slot meaning that they’re vulnerable of falling out of the playoff picture entirely.

Tigers 3, Royals 2: I was stuck in a hospital emergency room for over five hours yesterday. Don’t ask. Everyone’s OK now and 99% of the time there was just waiting around. The point, though, was that rather than watch any game I wanted, I was forced to watch about five innings of this one on TBS. I rarely watch the TBS broadcast, partially because of my aversion to three-man booths. And with nothing else to focus on, all I could do is pay attention to just how inane 95% of the stuff that John Smoltz and Cal Ripken say really is. This isn’t necessarily their fault. Indeed, I think Smoltz is actually pretty good in the booth when he’s actually analyzing something. The problem is that a three-man booth almost demands “talking to hear ourselves talk” conversation and bigger picture stories rather than actually focusing on the game at hand. There’s rebop about the grass on the field and pressure on guys approaching milestones and overarching narrative about what kind of team each team is (The Royals are like an NL team! The Tigers have a good lineup!) and very little game action is actually described, let alone analyzed. For each time one color analyst says something about the action, the other analyst feels the need to follow on, and frankly, there aren’t two good points to be made about most plays thus we get into blah blah blah land. Funny how the one guy left who works alone — Scully — is the best and the three-man booths are the worst. I think Scully is great, but I don’t think it’s impossible for someone else to be close to his level. Maybe if we let some broadcasters handle booths solo we’d have better broadcasts, hmm?

Anyway, the Tigers won this one. Sorry for the digression.

Nationals 11, Phillies 2: That last recap was long, so we’ll throw this one to Domonic Brown for analysis. Dom: “Excuse my French, but we got our ass whooped.” Yes, he actually said that.

Orioles 3, Blue Jays 1: The Orioles haven’t been firing on all cylinders lately, but they keep pace in the wild card race with a series win. They’re 2.5 back, with Texas, Tampa Bay and Cleveland ahead of them.

Indians 7, White Sox 1: The Tribe is one half game out. Not to toot my own horn, because I got a lot of predictions wrong this year, but one I got right was the Indians challenging for the wild card. And in recent weeks whenever anyone asks me who I like for the wild card, I’ve noted the Indians cupcake late schedule and said I think they still look like one of the wild card teams to me. So, toot toot.

Pirates 3, Cubs 2: Note: when I went to the hospital yesterday I just grabbed the first shirt I could find on the floor in my bedroom, and it happened to be my Pirates shit. Also, because it was sunny and bald men are always aware of the danger of sunburned bald heads, I grabbed for a cap as I left the house and it was my Pirates cap. So I had quite a little Buccos uniform on at the ER. The security guard decided to strike up baseball conversation with me thusly: “you guys have been pretty good, but we’re gonna win it.” He eventually let on he was a Cardinals fan. I thought about telling him that I wasn’t really a Pirates fan, “I just like gear from various teams and I bought this for a Pirates game last month and really I’m a Braves fan you see, and blah, blah, blah” but I figured that’s be too lame and complicated, so I just said “well, I like our chances,” and left it at that. Later I stopped by CVS to get a prescription and a guy in line ahead of me told me that, when he left the house, the Pirates were up 2-0 in this one. Pirates fans crawling out of the woodwork lately.

Twins 6, Rays 4: The Rays blow a chance to bypass the Rangers and give themselves the luxury of having another wild card team blow it before they do. Oh well. Funny how if the season ended today Texas would play Tampa Bay in the on-off, but they are the two teams people probably want to see the least. And are certainly not playing good baseball.

Brewers 6, Reds 5: The Reds had a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth and then, blammo, they lost in a Sean Halton walkoff homer. Strong assist from Carlos Gomez who robbed Jay Bruce of a homer in the ninth. That guy is just a crazy nuts good outfielder. In other news, as the game was slipping away in the late innings Dusty Baker didn’t go to Aroldis Chapman because The Book says you don’t use your closer in non-save situations on the road. So I guess that means this game could never have been saved.

Angels 2, Astros 1: Five of six for the Angels who continue to play great on the road and great late and oh what it could have been if they had played anything other than sucky for most of the season. Meanwhile, the Astros lose their 98th game. Obviously not a great season, but they have 13 games left. If they go 5-8 or better they will improve upon last year’s record. If they go 6-7 or better they will have their best record in three years. Considering they were supposed to crater worse than anything this year I suppose that’d be a victory of sorts, even if three-straight 100-loss season is pretty rare and awful.

Cardinals 12, Mariners 2: Four hits for Yadier Molina who is maybe getting a bit tired of the MVP conversation subtly shifting to Andrew McCutchen. Molina had a homer and three singles and the Cardinals remain tied with Pittsburgh, much to the pleasure of the security guy at the Ohio State University Medical Center Emergency Department.

Giants 4, Dodgers 3: Hunter Pence continues his amazing tear. After driving in seven on Saturday night he hit two homers yesterday as the Giants take three of four from the Dodgers, thereby delaying the latter’s clinchy gratification. Pence, by the way, has homers in four straight games and five of his last six. He’s gonna get a great-for-him long term deal from the Giants this winter, I presume. Less optimistic it’ll be a great-for-the-Giants deal, but it’s not my money.

Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 2: Your future third-place NL MVP guy, Paul Goldschmidt, drives in five. Which isn’t a slight to him. It’s just, sorry dude, you’re not a catcher nor a center fielder. Goldschmidt homered and went 4 for 4.

Red Sox 9 Yankees 2: TMC showed “Vertigo,” “Rear Window” and “To Catch a Thief” back-to-back-to-back, AMC had “Breaking Bad” which was just insane and then there was NFL stuff on NBC, so I imagine this was the least-watched Red Sox-Yankees game in some time. Or, I dunno, maybe there aren’t enough people with the good taste out there to watch some Hitchcock on a Sunday night. Either way: the Red Sox are laying waste to the American League and the Yankees, as valiant as their effort has been down the stretch, just couldn’t overcome all of their injuries and could no longer play above their talent level like they did in the early part of the season and, in many ways, since the trading deadline. Props to them, but they are just out-gunned.

Collins worried David Wright might go on disabled list

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
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NEW YORK (AP) Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York’s captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

“With the condition he’s been playing in and the condition he’s in right now, yeah, I’m concerned about it,” Collins said Monday. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely: