Alex Gordon

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 8, Orioles 6: Alex Gordon smacked two three-run homers and went 4 for 4 overall. Ubaldo Jimenez had had three solid starts this month but ran into a buzz saw in this one. Still, he felt good:

“Even though I was making good pitches, they found a way to hit the ball hard. I felt really good and I made a lot of good pitches”

Forget it, Ubaldo. I’ve tried to make the “sometimes good decisions lead to bad results and not all good results are a product of good decisions argument for years and no one ever buys it. That’s America for ya. All that matters is the bottom line.

Astros 8, White Sox 2: Matt Dominguez homered twice and drove in four. Meanwhile, I wore my Astros cap out to the grocery story yesterday and some dude was like “hey, Astros, huh?” So there’s that.

Rockies 8, Padres 6: Justin Morneau walks ’em off in the 10th. The Rockies also turned a triple play. It wasn’t the cleanest triple play ever given that the third out was called as a result of runner’s interference — Seth Smith made no real effort to slide into second as he tried to break up the turn — but it was a pretty sweet day in the highlights department for Colorado all the same.

Mariners 6, Twins 2: A four-game skid for the M’s is stopped by King Felix. It’s almost like he’s their stopper or something. Four hits for Robinson Cano. The Twins still won the series and have won six of nine overall. And the M’s are over .500. Not sure a lot of people saw either of those things coming.

Phillies 8, Reds 3: The Philly offense had been snoozing but it woke up on Saturday and jumped the heck out of bed on Sunday, hitting four homers overall. Cody Asche, Marlon Byrd, Jimmy Rollins and Will Nieves did the damage here. Cliff Lee had entered the game 0-3 in four home starts despite a 1.55 ERA this year. He pitched well here and got run support for once.

Yankees 4, Pirates 3; Pirates 5, Yankees 3: A split double header is sorta like reading the Timeline of the Far Future Wikipedia page. You wonder what the point of anything is. Nothing, ultimately, is accomplished. Or at least all that is accomplished is negated. Indeed, this ought to be the recap:

 

Nationals 6, Mets 3: I was going to make a joke about Wilson Ramos being the Nats’ cleanup hitter but then he done and went and drove in four, so there goes my joke.

Athletics 13, Indians 3: The A’s are pretty scary. Or the Indians are not that good. Or both. These things aren’t mutually exclusive, you know. The A’s outscored the Tribe 30-6 in a three-game sweep. Yoenis Cespedes drove in five and Brandon Moss drove in three. At this point the scary Cleveland Indians of 2013 are an utter mirage and we’re on year three of people selling Oakland short.

Cubs 4, Brewers 2: Travis Wood was tough stuff — he allowed two runs on only two hits over seven — but the best thing about this day was how good the Cubs looked in those throwback jerseys:

source:

 

Braves 6, Cardinals 5: A two-run rally for the Braves in the ninth with the tying run scoring on a bases-loaded walk from Trevor Rosenthal and the go-ahead run scoring on a wild pitch by Carlos Martinez. The clown shoes ninth inning obscured the fact that Jaime Garcia saw his first action in over a year and tossed seven innings. Not seven great innings or anything, but he didn’t break apart either. Three driven in for Freddie Freeman.

Angels 6, Rays 2: Two homers for Albert Pujols. Off David Price, no less. The second one was number 504, which ties him with Eddie Murray for 25th of all time. The average and on-base percentage aren’t what they used to be, but El Hombre can still bop. Matt Shoemaker took a shutout into the seventh.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 6, Blue Jays 2: The Rangers avoid a sweep thanks to Mitch Moreland and Alex Rios. Until Rios’ double in the fourth Texas had gone 23 innings without an extra base hit. Even with the win they are seven back of Oakland and are suddenly looking an awful lot like those Angels teams of the past few years which had such promise only to fizzle once the horses left the gate.

Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 3:  Eric Chavez broke a tie with a homer in the fifth as the Dbacks take the series from Los Angels. The Dodgers have lost three of four. Yasiel Puig’s hitting streak ends at 16. After such a godawful start the Dbacks are at least within shouting distance of the Padres and within local calling distance of the Dodgers. It’s a long season. That’s something which is easy to forget in April.

Giants 4, Marlins 1: Seven shutout innings for Ryan Volgelsong and a homer and a couple of runs scored for Pablo Sandoval. It was Sandoval’s first homer in over a month. The Marlins end an 11-game road trip and head home to Marlins Park, where they’re 17-5.

Tigers 6, Red Sox 2: Six wins in a row and 15 wins in eighteen games for Detroit. Ian Kinsler had four hits and Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter each homered. The Tigers are absolutely cruising right now.

Joe Mauer reveals he’s had blurred vision since 2013 concussion

Joe Mauer
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After a decade as the best all-around catcher in baseball Joe Mauer suffered a concussion in August of 2013 that forced him to change positions and marked the end of his time as a great hitter.

Mauer was doing his usual thing at the time of the concussion, hitting .324 with a .404 on-base percentage and .880 OPS. Since returning from the brain injury he’s hit .270 with a .348 on-base percentage and .725 OPS while seeing his numbers decline across the board.

Mauer revealed today to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that “lingering symptoms occasionally blurred his vision at the plate the past two seasons” and “he will experiment hitting with sunglasses for the first time to improve his pitch tracking” this season.

Here’s more from Murphy:

Bright sunshine sometimes triggered blurred vision that Mauer links to the concussion with which he was diagnosed in August 2013 after absorbing at least “two significant blows” from foul tips while he was still catching.

“I don’t want that to be kind of an excuse. If I’m out there, I’m out there. That’s just the way I am,” Mauer said. “There are times I’ve gone up to the plate and I just couldn’t pick up the ball. That’s part of the frustration because I’m trying to do everything I can to get back. It just takes time.”

There are more quotes along those same lines and Mauer’s numbers in night games were much better than his numbers in day games last season.

I live in Minnesota and it has been incredibly frustrating to see such a large (or at least vocal) segment of the Twins fan base treat Mauer’s steep decline as if it has nothing to do with the significant brain trauma he suffered. I’m hopeful that Mauer going public about literally struggling to see the baseball while at the plate will convince people to treat him more humanely, but that’s probably wishful thinking at this point.

What a shame, on every level.

Masahiro Tanaka can’t say for sure if he’ll be ready by Opening Day

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka said today that he “can’t say for sure” whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October and, while healthy, may be behind other pitchers.

Tanaka posted a 3.51 ERA and a 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season. He also has a partially torn UCL he’s been pitching through for some time which is always something the Yankees have on their mind when it comes to schedules and workouts for their ace.

Denard Span, not Angel Pagan, will be Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter

Denard Span
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Making official what was assumed when the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract last month, manager Bruce Bochy announced that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff.

That means 34-year-old Angel Pagan, who’s been the Giants’ starting center fielder and primary leadoff hitter for the past four seasons, will slide to left field and bat further down in the lineup. About a month before the Span signing Bochy said Pagan would remain in the center fielder/leadoff role, but the situation obviously changed.

It’s a move that makes sense, because Span–if healthy following hip surgery–is a superior defensive center fielder with better on-base skills. And if Pagan doesn’t bounce back following a rough 2015 season then having him in left field will make it easier for the Giants to platoon him or bench him in favor of, say, Gregor Blanco or a bigger bat.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

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For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.