Pineda Pine Tar

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 5, Yankees 1Michael Pineda: master criminal. I have a longer, more in-depth post about this here. Short version: the “Jeez, Pineda! How can you be so dumb?!!” angle everyone has jumped to in the hours since he got caught misses the important point of all of this. In the meantime, remember: some have claimed that about 90% of pitchers do what Pineda did. If that’s true, perhaps it’s worth looking at the signals baseball has sent about pitchers using foreign substances before we decide either how bad or how dumb a guy Pineda is. As for Pineda: thankfully no one in New York will turn this into a week-long drama and try to compete with one another for the hottest take on it all. Oh, wait. That’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Rangers 3, Athletics 0: Martin Perez has tossed two straight shutouts and has 26 consecutive scoreless innings overall, as he shut out the Astros for eight innings a couple of starts ago. After the game, Ron Washington said Perez “has weapons and he can throw them all for strikes.” I don’t know about pine tar, but I feel like having weapons is TOTALLY against the rules, so maybe someone should check Perez’s pockets next time out.

Braves 3, Marlins 1: Aaron Harang (6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER 11K) is no Martin Perez, but he continues to be one of the better last-week-of-spring-training pickups in baseball history and is either (a) proof that the Indians made a big mistake cutting him in March; (b) proof that pitching in the National League is easier than pitching in beer league softball. or (c) proof that baseball is just a weird game you can’t predict sometimes.

Diamondbacks 7, Cubs 5: It’s probably fitting that the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field featured a pull-your-guts-out loss for Cubs fans. They had a three-run lead entering the ninth inning and, even though Pedro Strop and some bad defense allowed the Dbacks to load the bases and score two runs, they did get the Dbacks down to their final out. Then James Russell and Justin Grimm came in and threw matches on the kerosene Strop poured all over the place. Aaron Hill’s two-run triple gave the Snakes the lead and, ultimately, the win.

Mariners 5, Astros 3: Two homers for Kyle Seager helps the Mariners avoid the sweep.

Giants 12, Rockies 10: Hector Sanchez hit two homers to help his team avoid a sweep too, but his second one was a grand slam in extra innings that gave the Giants the game so he gets extra points over Seager.

Nationals 5, Angels 4: Let’s mix up the Dbacks’ come-from-behind victory with the sweep-avoiding big hits from the Mariners and Giants games: a come-from-behind, sweep-avoiding victory for Washington, this one thanks to a two-run double by Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche’s game-winning RBI single.

White Sox 6, Tigers 4: Wait, here’s another twist: how about a come-from-behind grand slam? Eh? Like that? Marcus Semien and his teammates did. What I liked: watching Jose Abreu hit his second home run of the series into the bushes behind the center field wall at Comerica. That is seriously, seriously far and not a ton of folks can reach that place. Abreu has done it on two swings that looked pretty effortless. That dude is stronger than all get-out.

Indians 5, Royals 3: Michael Bourn had three hits and two RBI, while Bourn, Nick Swisher and Kipnis — Cleveland’s 1-2-3 hitters — combined for six hits and three RBIs. Kipnis’ RBI double in the seventh put the Tribe ahead.

Reds 5, Pirates 2: Alfredo Simon started out a bit shaky. He said it was cold and he had a hard time feeling the ball. Gee, if only there were something he could put on his fingers to help him out … Alas, he settled down and ended up pitching six and two-thirds of two-run ball. Simon is in the rotation filling in for the injured Mat Latos. He has a 1.30 ERA in that role.

Orioles 10, Blue Jays 8: Baltimore spotted Toronto a 6-1 lead but won anyway, thanks in part to Nelson Cruz’s two homers. Chris Tillman gave up seven runs on nine hits and after the game Buck Showalter said “in a lot of ways, it might be one of his best outings this year.” OK.

Mets 3, Cardinals 2: The Mets came close to blowing this in the ninth, but with one out shortstop Ruben Tejada fielded a throw from center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis to nail Matt Carpenter at the plate in a play so close they had to go to replay. In other news, Michael Wacha struck out ten and walked five in four innings. Nuke LaLoosh is going to sue him for stealing his bit.

Brewers 5, Padres 2: Yet another win for the Brew Crew, yet another save for K-Rod. Next year when someone asks me to write up my predictions I’m just gonna post a picture of the 2014 Brewers with the words “There is no God, the universe is chaos” scrawled across it.

Twins 6, Rays 4: All Chris Colabello does is drive in runs. Four more here for 26 on the year, which is a franchise record for the month of April. The best part though was Colabello’s quote about RBI after the game:

“RBIs are a product of opportunity, and I’m thankful to this coaching staff for believing in me enough to put me in the middle of this order, and to the guys in front of me for getting on base. My job is to knock them in, and it just so happens this month there’s quite a few of them.”

Would that anyone remember that at MVP voting time.

Dodgers 5, Phillies 2: Zach Greinke won his fourth, striking out 11. Cole Hamels made his season debut, allowing two runs in six innings and then getting yanked after 86 pitches. About which he wasn’t pleased. More on that later this morning.

Ruben Amaro is workin’ out and gettin’ ready to coach first base

Ruben Amaro Jr.
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One of the weirder stories of the offseason was Ruben Amaro going from the Phillies front office to the Red Sox, where he’ll coach first base. That kind of transition is almost unheard of but it’s happening with old Rube.

Today Pete Abraham of the Globe has a story about how Amaro is preparing for the role. And how, while it may look weird on paper, the move actually makes a lot more sense than you might suspect given the Red Sox’ coaching staff and Amaro’s own background. It’s good stuff. Go check it out.

On a personal note, it serves as a signal to me to keep my eyes peeled for reports about Amaro from Fort Myers once camp gets started:

Amaro has been working out in recent weeks with his nephew Andrew, a Phillies prospect, to get ready for throwing batting practice and hitting fungoes.

Could we be so lucky as to get the first-ever Best Shape of His Life report for a coach? God, I hope so!

It’s pretty stupid that athletes can’t endorse beer

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner celebrates after pitching the Giants to a 8-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) ORG XMIT: PAGP102
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One of the more amusing things to spin out of the Super Bowl were Peyton Manning’s little Budweiser endorsements in his postgame interviews. It was hilarious, really, to see him shoehorn in references to going and cracking a crisp cool Budweiser multiple times. It was more hilarious when a Budweiser representative tweeted that Manning was not paid to do that. Of course, Manning owns an interest in alcohol distributorships so talking about The King of Beers was in his best financial interest all the same.

After that happened people asked whether or not Manning would face discipline about this from the NFL, as players are not allowed to endorse alcoholic beverages. This seemed crazy to me. I had no idea that they were actually banned from doing so. Then I realized that, huh, I can’t for the life of me remember seeing beer commercials with active athletes, so I guess maybe it’s not so crazy. Ken Rosenthal later tweeted that Major League Baseball has a similar ban in place. No alcohol endorsements for ballplayers.

Why?

I mean, I can fully anticipate why the leagues would say athletes can’t do it. Think of the children! Role models! Messages about fitness! All that jazz. I suspect a more significant reason is that the leagues and their partners — mostly Anheuser-Busch/InBev — would prefer not to allow high-profile athletes to shill for a competitor. How bad would it look for Alex Rodriguez to do spots for Arrogant Bastard Ale when there are Budweiser signs hanging in 81% of the league’s ballparks? Actually, such ads would look WONDERFUL, but you know what I mean here.

That aside, it does strike me as crazy hypocritical that the leagues can rake in as much as they do from these companies while prohibiting players from getting in on the action. If it is kids they’re worried about, how can they deny that they endorse beer to children every bit as effectively and possibly more so than any one athlete can by virtue of putting it alongside the brands that are the NFL and MLB? Personally I don’t put much stock in a think-of-the-children argument when it comes to beer — it’s everywhere already and everyone does a good job of pushing the “drink responsibly” message — but if those are the leagues’ terms, they probably need to ask themselves how much of a distinction any one athlete and the entire league endorsing this stuff really is.

That aside, sports and beer — often sponsored by active players — have a long, long history together:

Musial

And the picture at the top of this post certainly shows us that Major League Baseball has no issues whatsoever in having its players endorse Budweiser in a practical sense.

Why can’t they get paid for doing it?

The Orioles signed Rafael Palmeiro’s son

Rafael Palmeiro
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Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.

Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.

As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.

This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.