And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

79 Comments

Braves 1, Phillies 0: Cliff Lee’s last start of 2013 came against the Braves. He pitched eight innings, allowed one solo homer but otherwise struck out 13 and looked invincible. And he lost. Last night: nine innings, one solo homer, but otherwise struck out 13 and looked invincible. And he lost. He totally dominates the Braves but runs into the worst luck run support-wise. Of course this time it had less to do with bad luck and more to do with Julio Teheran keeping Phillies hitters off balance all night. His first complete game and, by definition, his first shutout. Lee got the strikeouts, but Teheran walked one guy and allowed three singles and that was it.

More generally: some people may feel differently, but this is The Perfect Baseball Game. Not because the Braves won — that’s just a happy coincidence — but because of how freakin’ tight and perfectly pitched and tense it got as the game went on. Give me two guys working fast, throwing strikes, throwing confidently and throwing up zeroes like this all night. Give me the complete lack of calls to the bullpen. Give me tight defense and a ninth inning where one ball dropping in here or there or one swing of the bat could totally change things. A game where, until the 27th out is recorded, you couldn’t breathe. If this kind of game doesn’t grab you — or kill you, depending on which side your team falls — you and I don’t have a ton to talk about. Baseball doesn’t get better than this.

Yankees 3, Cubs 0; Yankees 2, Cubs 0: Shutout on both ends of the doubleheader. After watching this Ernie Banks probably said “Forget it! Playing two just ain’t worth it! I’m going out to get something to eat instead of watching any more of this atrocity. God, I should’ve just gone to the Whitney and checked out the Bellows exhibit rather than sit through two dispiriting shutouts.” So good going, 2014 Cubs, you went and made the most optimistic, most doubleheader-happy man in the history of baseball wish you had only played one game. At most. Well-played.

Reds 4, Pirates 0: Johnny Cueto was on point, setting his career high for strikeouts and tossing his third career shutout. Put me in mind of that April 2008 debut of his, which I surreptitiously watched with my friend Mark, who is a big Reds fan, while at my law office one fine afternoon. We watched that and thought Cueto was Bob Gibson all over again. He’s not, but when he’s on he’s really good.

Orioles 3, Rays 0: Yet another shutout. Specifically, Miguel Gonzalez and two relievers combined on a six-hitter. For years we’ve been saying “if the O’s get pitching, look out!” The’ve been getting pitching. As Boston stumbles and Tampa Bay and New York is smacked around by injuries. Hmmmm.

Indians 3, Tigers 2: Last year the Indians finished a game behind the Tigers. If they had dropped, say, only 13 of 19 to the Tigers instead of the 15 of 19 they did lose it obviously would’ve gone differently. They’re starting 2014 off on better footing, beating the Tigers on a night when Anibal Sanchez didn’t seem to have it together early and when Zach McAllilster did. Yan Gomes hot a two-run triple.

Nationals 6, Marlins 3: Down 3-0 in the top of the sixth, Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer which was subject to a review. Watch it here. It looks sorta like fan interference but it also looks like maybe it would hit above the wall even if the dorks didn’t reach out to grab it. I dunno, it’s the Nats and Marlins. When they’re fighting for second place, several games back of the Braves all year, we can revisit its significance, right? Regardless, if Jarrod Saltalamacchia doesn’t commit two — not one, but two — errors that inning, it’s all academic anyway. Jose Fernandez (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 10K, 0 BB) deserved better.

Mets 5, Diamondbacks 2: The Mets sweep. Dillon Gee allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings. That’s six straight losses for the Dbacks. Not sure what they do now. They’ve traded away all their non-gritty players, fired pitching coach Charles Nagy last year and it’s doubtful that throwing balls at guys is a sound strategy. They’re the worst team in baseball at the moment.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 1: Wily Peralta allowed one run in six and a third as the Brew Crew avoids the sweep. Ron Roenicke after the game:

“What’s really important — most important — is we lost two games to begin the series and we got that game back. It’s important against our division, but we have to win more games than they do. It’s not head to head. We have to win more games this season then they do. That’s what we’re playing for.”

Great, now what is the equipment manager supposed to do with all of these swimsuits and pianos the Brewers were going to use in the later rounds of the pageant?

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 3, Mariners 2: I spend all morning yesterday talking up Darvish vs. Hernandez and neither figures in the decision. Each pitched well — one run for Hernandez over seven, two over seven for Darvish — but the game turned on Fernando Rodney blowing up in the ninth, throwing a run-scoring wild pitch and allowing a walkoff single to Leonys Martin. Which, to be honest, may have been something I could’ve predicted when I was talking up Hernandez and Darvish yesterday morning.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Pablo Sandoval hit a junk pitch with an awkward swing into center field to score the go-ahead and ultimately winning run in the seventh. Baseball doesn’t have to always be pretty.

Angels 5, Athletics 4: Chris Iannetta with a walkoff homer in the 12th. You’ll be shocked to hear that, after the game, Iannetta said he “was just looking for a pitch to hit.” The A’s blew a bunch of chances to take the lead in extras but the Angels’ pen stranded their runners left and right.

Royals 6, Astros 4: Mike Moustakas, who has struggled mightily out of the gate, hit solo homer to give the Royals the lead in the 11th. George Springer had a hit and a walk in his big league debut.

Padres 4, Rockies 2: Andrew Cashner allowed one earned run while pitching into the eighth and striking out five. It was the 10th straight start in which he gave up two runs or fewer.

Red Sox 6, White Sox 4: The polar opposite of that Braves-Phillies game. Robin Ventura used four pitchers to get through the eighth inning and thus had to use infielder Leury Garcia to pitch the 14th inning of a tie game. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run double off him for what proved to be the winning runs. Matthew has an extended recap of this one, including some fun scoring decisions and box score oddities.

Blue Jays vs. Twins: POSTPONED: “I think it’s dark and it looks like rain,” you said, “and the wind is blowing like it’s the end of the
world,” you said “and it’s so cold it’s like the cold if you were dead,” and then you smiled for a second.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

Getty Images
4 Comments

Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
2 Comments

The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.