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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 6, Twins 4: Zack Greinke struck out six and allowed no earned runs in six innings. He’s on a run of 18 straight starts in which he has gone five innings while allowing two runs or fewer and no one has done that since 1914.I would have bet my life that Bob Gibson or Greg Maddux or someone had done that before, but nope. This was the Dodgers’ 10,000th win as a franchise. Although, obviously many of those wins came before they moved to Los Angeles. Before that they were known as the Minneapolis Dodgers. George Mikan, coincidentally enough, was the guy who sit that five innings/two runs record back in 1914. True story.

Nationals 7, Astros 0: Anthony Rendon had four hits and was a triple short of the cycle. He’s from Houston and thus had a bunch of friends in the crowd, most of whom were his classmates at Rushmore Academy before he was expelled for attempting to break ground on an aquarium without the school’s approval and was forced to attend Grover Cleveland High. Also a true story.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 4: Miguel Montero with the walkoff homer in the tenth. He then spent 20 minutes after the game talking smack about the ball he hit and saying that, really, no one on the Diamondbacks was all that impressed with the ball before it was pitched. Open secret, really, and everyone is now better of that it’s gone. OK, in all seriousness? Montero DID slide into home on his walkoff bomb. Which seems like the sort of thing he’d complain about former teammates doing. Doesn’t seem very gritty and businesslike.

Cardinals 9, Brewers 3: The Cardinals avoid the sweep by winning this one in a laugher. Allen Craig homered, drove in three and had four hits and Matt Adams had a three-run bomb. Brewers catcher Martin Moldanado pitched the eighth inning, allowing only one hit, so good for him. Of course, back in the original days of the franchise — when they were known as the Ominowakiing Beermakers, then taking on the original Ojibwe Indian name for the area — catchers used to pitch to themselves and routinely had shutout performances. It was a very different game for a very different time. Once again, true story.

Cubs 9, Reds 4: Anthony Rizzo had a two-run homer and walked four times, helping pace the Cubs’ offensive output. I wonder if all the people who get on Joey Votto’s case watched Rizzo take all of those walks and admit to themselves that, hmm, maybe that kind of thing helps the team some?

Athletics 12, Rangers 1: The sweep. Which answers the Rangers’ sweep of Oakland last week. Four errors for the Rangers including two by Elvis Andrus. Jesse Chavez allowed only one hit in seven scoreless innings and struck out eight. The A’s are 6-0 when he starts.

Giants 3, Padres 2: Tim Hudson was on point, carrying a shutout into the ninth. Indeed, he had a Maddux going (a complete game with fewer than 100 pitches) only to give up a two-run homer to Yasmani Grandal on his 89th and final pitch of the game. Sergio Romo came in and got the last out on five pitches.

Royals 4, Blue Jays 2: Alcides Escobar is a glove man, but he had a two-run double in the seventh here to put the Royals ahead to stay. Eric Hosmer drove in the other two and Yordano Ventura pitched five shutout innings.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Tigers 5, White Sox 1: Max Scherzer tossed six scoreless, winning his third start in a row. He then got into a feud with reporters for calling him “Max Scherzer” in the game story when he was specifically promised they would call him by his full first name of Maxwell.

Marlins 9, Braves 3: Aaron Harang entered the game with a 0.85 ERA. He left it with a 2.97 ERA after giving up nine runs on ten hits. He couldn’t make it through five innings. It’s the second straight night the Marlins have battered heretofore dominant Braves starters. It’s almost as if that deadball era pace they had been keeping wasn’t sustainable. Meanwhile, Atlanta has managed only five hits in the past two games, facing Nate Eovaldi and Jose Fernandez.

Angels 7, Indians 1: C.J. Wilson pitched two-hit ball over eight innings, striking out eight, walking one and retiring his last 18 batters. That’s six straight losses for the Indians. They seemed to concede this one pretty early too.

Mariners vs. Yankees; Pirates vs. Orioles; Rays vs. Red Sox; Mets vs. Phillies: POSTPONED:

In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind’s home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the roof-tree
Co co rico co co rico
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain
Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]