Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 1, Twins 0: The Tigers finally clinch the AL Central. It was a nail-biter, though, as they scored their lone run in the first inning and then held off the Twins all night long. Best part of their celebration? For the second year in a row Max Scherzer rocked the goggles with two different color lenses.

Indians 7, White Sox 2: The Indians keep their foot on the gas, continuing their season-long abuse of the White Sox. They’ve beat the pale hose 14 straight times. Danny Salazar struck out eight dudes in five and a third innings.

Rays 8, Yankees 3: I’ve often said that you can’t count out the Yankees until they are officially dead. Well, now they are officially dead. Phil Hughes failed to get past the fifth inning once again. That makes 14 times for him this year, which ties the single season record since 1969. He’s gone after this year. He needs to retreat to some home for shell-shocked pitchers on the west coast. Like maybe Seattle or San Diego.

Rangers 7, Astros 3: The Rangers are still alive, still one back of Cleveland. The competition now gets considerably tougher, however, as they go from hosting the hapless Astros to the far more hapful Angels.

Brewers 4, Braves 0: I held forth on Twitter about this last night. My view: Carlo Gomez’s home run trot was pretty punky and low rent, but Brian McCann literally blocking the basepaths and preventing Gomez from crossing the plate was just dumb. This is the second or third time this year the Braves and McCann have taken it upon themselves to be the baseball decorum police, and it’s La Russian in its silliness. You know how you deal with a dumb showboat? Ignore him. Point and laugh. Have the scoreboard operator put up the NL standings with the Brewers’ place in them bolded. Spare me the macho You Have To Play The Game The Right Way business and lead by example. For what it’s worth, Gomez apologized after the game. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see McCann apologize for instigating a benches-clearing situation which could have gotten someone hurt.

Cubs 4, Pirates 2: The Pirates are now three behind St. Louis with three games to go, so this is pretty much all about the wild card now.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 1: The sweep. Youth served the Cardinals, as youngsters Shelby Miller, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal combined for the one-run performance.

Mets 1, Reds 0: Daisuke Matsuzaka made ’em look pretty weak, and the Reds dropped two of three to the Mets and now have to sweep Pittsburgh this weekend to host the wild card game at Great American Ballpark.

Angels 3, Athletics 1: Jered Weaver pitched seven innings of five-hit ball and Josh Hamilton drove in two. If only this sort of combo happened far more between April and August. Alas. The Angels have taken four of six from the A’s in the past week or two and now face the Rangers whose season they can spoil. Probably worth keeping an eye on these guys next year. Just too much talent to continue to suck like they have.

Red Sox 15, Rockies 5: Todd Helton got a horse, a homer and a double in his final home game for the Rockies, but he also got a pretty darn decisive loss. Will Middlebrooks had two homers — a grand slam and a three-run shut — to give him seven RBI.

Marlins 3, Phillies 2: Adeiny Hechavarria drove in three runs, including the go-ahead run in the eighth.

Orioles 9, Blue Jays 5: Four homers for the O’s as they continue to play out the string with Adam Jones, Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters on the bench. This win finally assured them of a .500+ record.

Padres 12, Diamondbacks 2 : Twelve runs for the Padres? Wow. After the game Jedd Gyorko said “It’s been awhile since we had a game like that.” Heck, there are stretches of five or six games combined where they haven’t had a performance like that.

Mariners 6, Royals 0: The Royals bow out of the playoff race. On the one hand, if you told me before the season that Kansas City would be in it until just before the last weekend of the year I’d say that they had an amazing, expectation-exceeding season. On the other hand, having watched them more closely this year than we normally have watched them, it’s hard to escape the feeling that what ultimately did them in was too many stretches on not playing up to potential. Obviously this was still a successful season. But such a weird team. One that can look so good in some stretches and look so bad in others.

Giants 6, Dodgers 4: Likely Barry Zito’s last win for the Giants. Seven years in Oakland, seven years in San Francisco. Nice bookends I suppose, with a lot of overpaid performance in the middle, but such is life. He left the game between innings so he didn’t get a standing ovation. One wonders what the San Francisco fans would have done if he had been pulled mid-inning. What is the proper response to someone who was around for so much success but, really, didn’t contribute too terribly much to it?

Dee Gordon apologizes, is reinstated from PED suspension

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon celebrates after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Derek Dietrich scored on the double. The Tigers won 8-7. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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The Miami Marlins have reinstated second baseman Dee Gordon from his suspension.

Gordon, of course, has missed the last 80 games while serving his drug suspension. He’s coming off a minor league rehab assignment and will be the everyday second baseman for the contending Marlins. He was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances when he was popped. He was replaced by Derek Dietrich, who hit a nice .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA in Gordon’s absence, so don’t expect a tremendous upgrade at second down the stretch, even if they get a nice upgrade in the utility and depth department.

To make room for Gordon, the Marlins designated utilityman and sometimes hero Don Kelly for assignment. Sad jams.

UPDATE: Gordon issued a video apology on the eve of his reinstatement:

Chris Sale called “a competitor” for stuff that gets most guys called “head cases”

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox reacts during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Chris Sale has had an eventful week.

On Saturday he was scratched from his start and subsequently suspended for five games for cutting up the 1976 throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear, making them unusable. That cost the team over $12,000 and cost the Sox their best pitcher hours before game time.

On Monday Sale gave an interview to Scott Merkin in which he apologized to fans and teammates and explained his rationale for the uniform shredding. Even if his act was over the top, there was a core of understandable motivation at least: Sale said he voiced his displeasure with the untucked jersey months ago and asked to not pitch on a night they’d have to wear them because he believed it would mess with his mechanics and/or mental state. The Sox didn’t heed his request and Sale took issue, as many probably would, with what he felt was the business of throwback jerseys taking precedence over on-the-field stuff.

Of course, there are still some pretty big problems here. Mostly having to do with the facts that (a) the Sox have people on staff who could’ve optimized his jersey any way he needed it to be optimized if he had asked; (b) ballplayers have been wearing throwbacks for a long time now and, even if they don’t like them, they tend to endure them; and (c) he’s a ballplayer who needs to suck things up sometimes like every single ballplayer ever has done. There are a ton of things ballplayers are expected to do which are insisted upon by the business folks. It’s part of the gig.

A little more seriously than that is the fact that Sale pretty publicly threw his manager, Robin Ventura, under the bus :

“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don’t feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix — it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that’s when I lost it.”

An undercurrent to all of this is Sale being fairly obvious in voicing his desire to be traded.

Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story about Sale’s week. It’s sourced largely by Sale’s friend Adam Eaton who defends Sale as a passionate competitor who just wants to win and how all of this stuff of the past week was about his desire to do so. The headline of the story buys in to all of that:

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We heard much the same along these lines when Sale blasted Sox brass following the Drake LaRoche stuff during spring training, going on an expletive-filled rant in a meeting behind closed doors but then bringing the same noise, albeit cleaned up, in front of reporters after it all became public.

Chris Sale is who he is, of course, and I’m not going to too harshly judge who he is. He’s an amazing pitcher and, as most athletes will tell you, the mental part of the game is almost as important or, maybe, even more important than the physical part. Asking Sale to be who he isn’t would probably be counterproductive in the long term.

But I am fascinated with the way in which someone who has behaved like Sale has behaved is described. He’s a “competitor” whose objectively disruptive and literally destructive behavior is explained away as merely a function of his desire to win. His friends on the team, like Eaton, are sought out for damage control and spin and his detractors, which there are likely some, aren’t quoted, even anonymously. He has publicly called out his manager as not wanting to win as much as he wants to please his bosses and he has likewise called out his manager’s bosses and has welcomed a trade, yet we aren’t seeing stories about how that’s a bad thing for the Sox’ clubhouse.

I don’t much care for that sort of stuff, actually, as I suspect most clubhouse controversy stories are somewhat overblown and overly dramatized. But those stories have been go-to tropes of sports writers for decades, and I am trying to imagine this sort of story about players who aren’t Chris Sale. Players who don’t have as friendly a relationship with the media as he has or who don’t have clubhouse allies who do. I feel like, most of the time, a story about a guy who who has done the odd things Sale has done both this week and last March would play a hell of a lot differently.

How does this all play of it’s Yordano Ventura? Or Yasiel Puig? Or Jose Fernandez? How does this play if it took place in the NBA and it was Kevin Durant who shredded up a bunch of short-shorts on 80s throwback night? How does it play if it’s Cam Newton?

I bet it plays differently.