Jose Fernandez

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 1, Braves 0: I talked about how awesome 1-0 pitching duels are just last week. I wish I had saved that ode for this one. Braves pitchers struck out 13 hitters, didn’t walk any and allowed only one run and lost. That’s pretty mind-blowing. Not as mind-blowing as Jose Fernandez was, of course. He struck out 14 and allowed only three hits in eight shutout innings. And the game was so fast. Two hours and eight minutes. I mean, you could play this game almost five full times in the same amount of time it takes to play my new favorite song (be sure to watch through to the end):

Angels 7, Nationals 2: There went 499 and 500 for Albert Pujols. He has eight on the year and has an OPS of .956. Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say, but nothing comes out when they move their lips — just a bunch of gibberish –and mother****ers act like they forgot about El Hombre.

Rays 7, Twins 3:  David DeJesus drove in three and David Price was effective, but let’s talk about the weird here instead: Price was hit by a comebacker right in the, urm, um, midsection in the top of the fourth. He was fine, though. This is why you wear a cup, gentlemen. Also, Great Moments in Instant Replay: Yunel Escobar took ball four, the umps were confused about the count, checked instant replay and still got the darn count wrong. Escobar ended up striking out on the 4-2 pitch.

Royals 8, Indians 2Moustakas’ three-run homer, Eric Hosmer had four hits and James Shields was on point. This has been the blueprint for the past couple of year, but only Shields has read the plans and adhered to them consistently before last night.

Reds 4, Pirates 1: Johnny Cueto with his second straight complete game. The only blemish here was a homer given up to Andrew McCutchen in the ninth.

Blue Jays 9, Orioles 3Brett LawrieMelky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion each hit homers. It was Encarnacion’s first of the year. He watched it go out and rounded the bases with his right-arm-cocked chicken wing thing. No one got in his face and barked at him afterward. They just played baseball. Imagine.

Tigers 8, White Sox 6: Miguel Cabrera finally woke up, going 3 for 5 with a homer and an RBI double. Of course, a lot of Tigers hit against Sox’ spot starter Charlie Leesman, who filled in for Chris Sale.

Cardinals 3, Mets 0: Adam Wainwright shut the Mets out into the seventh inning but had to leave when he hyperextended his knee fielding a ball. He says he’s OK. No one asked if the Mets think they’ll be OK after being shut out, but we presume so.

Yankees 9, Red Sox 3: Masahiro Tanaka continues to be relatively unimpressed with major league hitters. I’m sure he wouldn’t say that, but no one has really challenged him yet (7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 7K 0 BB). The Yankees, meanwhile, scored eight runs — only three earned — off Jon Lester. Jacoby Ellsbury’s return to Fenway in enemy colors started off well for him: he tripled to lead off the game and then robbed Grady Sizemore of a hit with a nice catch. He later hit a two-run double.

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

Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 2: Mike Olt — MIKE OLT! — hit a three-run homer. The Cubs have won three of four. Arizona has dropped four straight.

Padres 2, Brewers 1: A Chase Headley homer in the 12th ended up winning it, but a big assist goes to the Padres pen who tossed six shutout innings. The Brewers’ four-game winning streak is snapped.

Rangers 5, Athletics 4: Former Athletic Mike Choice hit a two-run single in the ninth to help the Rangers rally. After the game he said “you always want to do something good against the ex.” I have no idea what he’s talking about. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shave and put on my best clothes because my ex-wife has a meeting near my house this morning and I need to look my best on the off-chance that she stops by to say hi to the kids before they go to school.

Rockies 2, Giants 1: Always fun to see a pitching duel in Denver. Franklin Morales allowed one run on five hits over seven. Madison Bumgarner allowed two runs in eight. All the runs came on solo homers and the game was over in 2:41.

Astros 5, Mariners 2: Remember when people were all like “hmm, maybe the Mariners are better now” a couple of weeks ago? Haha, that was a riot. Collin McHugh was called up from Oklahoma City to take Scott Feldman’s start and didn’t walk a batter while pitching into the seventh. The crowd at Safeco Field numbered 10,466 and was the fifth-lowest in park history. Six of the seven lowest have come when the Astros were in town. Some draw, eh? The Mariners have dropped eight in a row and ten of eleven, however, so that crowd ain’t all on Houston.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 2: The Dodgers were shut down by the Phillies’ starter for the second straight night — this time A.J. Burnett — but really lost this when Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez got their wires crossed on a short Carlos Ruiz fly to left in the 10th. The next man up, Domonic Brown, doubled him in.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
Associated Press
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.