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Dodgers’ bullpen nearly coughed up the lead in 7-5 victory over the D-Backs

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Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill couldn’t overcome his control issues and the Dodgers took advantage in the second and final game played at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in Australia, winning 7-5. They fly back home having swept the D-Backs in the two-game overseas set.

The Dodgers rallied for a two-out run in the first inning when Andre Ethier hit a line drive single to right-center to drive in Yasiel Puig.

In the top of the third, Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu singled to lead off the inning, then advanced to third base on a Dee Gordon double to right-center that was just a few feet short of the fence. Puig then singled Ryu home, but got caught in a rundown for the first out of the inning. After Hanley Ramirez walked to put runners at first and third, Adrian Gonzalez brought Gordon home on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 in favor of the Dodgers.

Cahill was finally chased in the fifth inning after walking Gonzalez and Ethier consecutively to start the frame. Manager Kirk Gibson brought in reliever Josh Collmenter, but he too issued a walk to A.J. Ellis, loading the bases with no outs for left fielder Mike Baxter. Baxter grounded into a double play, but Gonzalez scored to make it 4-0. Juan Uribe followed up with a double to make it 5-0. Cahill’s final line: four innings pitched, five earned runs allowed on eight hits and four walks and a hit batsman, while recording only one strikeout.

Collmenter took the mound in the sixth inning, but the Dodgers continued to score. Leading off, Gordon bunted in front of catcher Miguel Montero, who made an error attempting to throw out Gordon, who scampered to second base. Puig doubled to left to drive in Gordon. Finally, Collmenter walked Hanley Ramirez before Gibson took him out for lefty Joe Thatcher. Thatcher stopped the bleeding, striking out Adrian Gonzalez. Puig was thrown out trying to advance on a wild pitch, then Ethier lined out to end the frame.

Meanwhile, Ryu was nearly unhittable on the mound. The Diamondbacks were only able to scrape together two singles and a walk over five innings. The lefty struck out five in the effort.

Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow took over in the sixth inning, but immediately got into trouble, issuing a walk to Aaron Hill and a single to Paul Goldschmidt to put runners on first and second with no outs. Martin Prado killed the momentum, however, grounding into a 6-3 double play. Montero grounded out to end the inning.

The Dodgers kept the pressure on, scoring their seventh on the seventh when Dee Gordon hit a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded. In the bottom half, Paco Rodriguez and Jamey Wright teamed up to load the bases, but narrowly escaped with the shutout intact as Hill lined out to right field to end the inning. Wright stayed in for the eighth, got into trouble, and couldn’t escape. A one-out walk followed by two consecutive singles by Montero and Mark Trumbo led to the D-Backs’ first run. Lefty J.P. Howell came in and extinguished the fire.

The Dodgers asked Jose Dominguez to close out a 7-1 ballgame but the young right-hander got himself into trouble with back-to-back walks of A.J. Pollock and Hill. Paul Goldschmidt then hit a fly ball to deep right-center that would have been out of most MLB parks, but Ethier caught it on the track with but a couple feet to spare. Pollock advanced to third. With Prado at the plate, Hill took second base on defensive indifference. Prado knocked both runners in with a single to right-center, chasing Dominguez from the game with a 7-3 score. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly brought in lefty Paul Maholm, who struck out Montero. Don Mattingly then made his seventh and final pitching change of the night, bringing in Kenley Jansen, who immediately served up a two-run home run to Trumbo to make it 7-5. Jansen struck out Gerardo Parra at long last to seal the deal.

Dee Gordon finished 3-for-4 with a double, walk, and a hit-by-pitch, along with an RBI and a run scored.

Adrian Gonzalez went 0-for-2 with two walks. In the fifth inning, Gonzalez stole second base off of Cahill and advanced to third on Montero’s throwing error. It’s just the sixth stolen base of his career, but he’s five-for-five in stolen base attempts since the start of 2010.

After a tough 0-for-5 game in the opener, Yasiel Puig went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI, and a run scored.

Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth, but D-Backs closer Addison Reed struck him out.

Juan Uribe went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

Paul Goldschmidt singled twice in five at-bats.

Mark Trumbo went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBI.

Overall, the game featured 12 runs, 21 hits, 16 walks, and four errors. The two teams combined to use 14 pitchers.

The Dodgers will fly back home and resume spring training with three games against the Angels before traveling to San Diego to open up the regular season in the United States on the 30th.  The Diamondbacks will play three against the Cubs as well as split-squad games against the Reds and Indians before their home opener against the Giants on the 31st.

Dee Gordon 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.

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.