Henderson Alvarez

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Marlins 1, Tigers 0: It’s not often a 100-loss team ends the year with a beer shower celebration. But it’s not often a guy on a 100-loss team — or any team for that matter — tosses a no-hitter on the final day while winning via a walkoff wild pitch. Congratulations Henderson Alvarez. Sorry about having to get that hug from Jeff Loria afterward. Oh, also weird: the Tigers shut the Marlins out until the eighth using three starting pitchers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello. So no, not your typical game-162.

Rays 7, Blue Jays 6: The Rays almost woofed away a playoff spot completely. No, thanks to the stumble at the end, they are still stuck with a game-163 and two one-and-done games rather than just one. Oh well, that’s what baseball wants, that’s what baseball gets.

Rangers 6, Angels 2: Way to finish strong against a team that hasn’t been playing bad baseball of late. Texas has seven straight wins. But if they don’t win an eighth and then a ninth in a row, it’s all over.

Pirates 4, Reds 2: And they’ll meet again on Tuesday, this time up the river in Pittsburgh. A three-game sweep for the Pirates. Now we get to see if momentum means anything. Hint: it doesn’t, historically speaking. But if the Pirates win people will still say it’s a thing.

Indians 5, Twins 1: The Indians finish hot. And now hope that Texas and Tampa Bay go 19 innings and use every single pitcher tonight.

Braves 12, Phillies 5: Big offense for the Braves and no one fought with anyone, which is nice. Although really, between yelling at the opposition over home run trots and coaches fighting with players, the Braves are giving me a 1970s A’s-Yankees vibe. Maybe they’ll dysfunction themselves all the way to the World Series title. As for the Phillies: thank god this year is over.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 6: A loss, yes, even though they were up early, but the Sox finish at 97-65, tied for the best record in baseball. This was basically a spring training for Boston. For the Orioles: a good season. And an abject lesson in the difference between the ball bouncing one way in one year and the other way the next.

Royals 4, White Sox 1: An eighty-six win year makes it the best since 1989 for the Royals. They finished the month 17-10, making it their best month of the year. Gonna be a trendy pick next season. For the White Sox? Well, the didn’t lose 100. I guess that’s something.

Mets 3, Brewers 2: The Mets rallied with two in the eight. Eric Young Jr. took the stolen base crown. Otherwise: a pretty forgettable season for both clubs this year. At least the Mets, unlike the Brewers, had some things to grow on in the form of young pitching. Fans of both clubs are probably both happy for winter.

Yankees 5, Astros 1: Fourteen inning game, fifteenth straight loss for the Astros. But it may be the Yankees who have the more uncertain future. Nowhere to go but up for Houston. The Yankees could be on the verge of a rebuild, a reload, a rebound year or a total cratering. Gonna be an interesting offseason for Brian Cashman.

Cardinals 4, Cubs 0: The Cards finish with a tie for the best record in baseball, home field advantage in the NL playoffs and a date with the wild card winner rather than a series with the Dodgers. Not a bad way to roll into the playoffs.

Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 2: Farewell Davey Johnson, who ends his managerial career his career with a record of 1,372-1,071. Farewell Nationals, most experts’ pick to win the NL East this year. For the Dbacks: grit wasn’t good enough.

Athletics 9, Mariners 0: Bang meets whimper.Six pitchers combine for the shutout and now the A’s look forward to a playoff rematch with the Tigers. Some starters sat, others left the game early, either way it didn’t matter. The M’s will now look for a new manager. It should totally be Ozzie Guillen, right?

Giants 7, Padres 6: Two runs in the ninth for the come-from-behind win. It was Hunter Pence, the Giants’ new $90 million man who did the honors. Three RBI overall.

Rockies 2, Dodgers 1: Todd Helton’s career comes to an end. With a strikeout, alas, but he’ll remember the better stuff. Nice ovation from the Dodgers fans for Helton at the end. L.A. now heads to Atlanta. God, I hope Brian McCann doesn’t kill Yasiel Puig for not playing the game the right way at some point, but it could very well happen.

And with that, And That Happen bids you adieu for the year.  Yes, we have a game 163 to go, but ATH is a creature of the regular season.

And it’s been a good season. But we now shift into a different gear — the playoff gear — which is wonderful for its own purposes but which is just … something else. For me baseball is about the day-in-day-out of the regular season and its lack of pitched drama is what makes it a true pastime. I like the playoffs fine, but there’s nothing like April-September baseball. And every year at this time I feel a bit sad about its passing, even if the next month will be exciting and memorable.

Oh well. Thanks for reading every morning. This feature will see you again next year.

Jay Bruce: “This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving.”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 25:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds swings and watches the flight of his ball as he hits a two-run homer against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fourth inning at AT&T Park on July 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Outfielder Jay Bruce was the catalyst in the Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Giants on Monday night, drilling a pair of two-run home runs. It’s good timing for the Reds, as the trade deadline is six days away. The Reds might prefer to get a prospect or two for Bruce rather than pick up his $13 million club option for 2017 or buy him out for $1 million and let him walk into free agency.

It was only a year ago that it seemed like the Reds would have to settle for next-to-nothing to get rid of Bruce. He posted career-lows across the board in 2014, including a .654 OPS and 18 home runs. He improved last season, returning to 26 home runs, but came with an uninspiring .729 OPS.

This year is another story. Bruce is currently hitting .272/.326/.564 with 23 home runs and a league-best 77 RBI. He’s on pace to set career-bests in a lot of categories if he’s able to stay healthy.

Bruce was honest about his resurgence, though, admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s so much better this year as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving. You’re never settled. You’ve never got it. You’ve never figured it out. It’s like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.

Bruce, who welcomed a child into the world back in April, also discussed the difficulties of hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors once again.

It’s harder this year. I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it’s much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it’s passed because we’ll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere.

This is a point of view that is not often covered. This time of the year can be very difficult for players who may be traded, as they await a phone call that could send their lives into upheaval. It may mean being away from their families for three months. It means living out of a hotel room or finding a place to live on very short notice. Even Bruce’s comments about his success this year are illuminating about the mental strain of the game.

As usual, great reporting by Buchanan. His full article is worth your time.

Chris Sale doesn’t regret protesting wearing White Sox retro uniform

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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White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from Saturday night’s start against the Tigers due to a confrontation he had with White Sox coaches and front office staff over the 1976 retro uniforms the club was to wear. Sale used a knife to cut up his uniform as well as the uniforms of some other players, protesting the club’s decision to wear them. The White Sox suspended Sale five games “for violating team rules, for insubordination, and for destroying team equipment.”

Sale spoke about the incident for the first time, as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. The lefty apologized to fans who came to see him pitch and said he regrets “not being there for my guys,” referring to the bullpen, which had to cover for Sale on Saturday. Matt Albers got the spot start and went two innings.

Sale felt the uniform would have impacted his performance, saying, “[The ’76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn’t want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn’t want anything to alter my mechanics. … There’s a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing.”

Sale was firm that he doesn’t regret standing up for he believes in. “Absolutely not,” he said. He continued, “Do I regret saying business should not be first before winning? Absolutely not.”

With his five-game suspension to end after Wednesday’s game, Sale is on track to start Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.