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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 2: Eight wins for Mark Buehrle, seven straight losses for the Boston Red Sox and, get this, the Toronto Blue Jays are in first place in the American League East as we enter Memorial Day weekend. Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista each had homers.

Rangers 9, Tigers 2: The Rangers season is collapsing in injury but they still have Yu Darvish and the Tigers are still suffering from the Curse of the Zubaz. Darvish allowed two runs over seven innings and Rangers hitters beat the snot out of Robbie Ray.

Marlins 4, Phillies 3: Christian Yelich hit a two-out, bases-loaded RBI single to walk the Marlins off with a win. Or, I think it walked the Phillies off. That’s what Dennis Eckersley was referring to when he coined the term, I believe. The losing team walking off the field in defeat as opposed to running back to the dugout like they would following any but the final innings. Then again, usage can often change words and phrases from their original or intended meaning, so maybe it doesn’t matter?

Rays 5, Athletics 2: Grant Balfour couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead in the ninth, but then Dan Otero and Luke Gregerson couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead in the 11th, so that canceled out. Sorta. Kinda. I don’t know. All I know is that it set the stage for a three-run walkoff jack for Sean Rodriguez in the bottom of the 11th. That ended a four-game losing streak for the Rays and a five-game winning streak for the A’s.

Cardinals 4, Diamondbacks 2: The sweep. Shane Robinson was was called up yesterday and went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored. And his “just got called up from the minors” cliches are as sharp as a tack:

“It was a good feeling to be able to get in there and help out the club and get a win tonight,” Robinson said. “I’m just feeling blessed to be up here.”

Crash Davis couldn’t have instructed him any better.

Mets 5, Dodgers 3: The Mets do what very few teams have been able to do this year, and that’s get to Zack Greinke. Well, to the extent he really can be got to anyway. Three runs — one earned — and four hits. But the key was that they made him work, chasing him after 101 pitches in five innings. Jonathon Niese hit an RBI double to [altogether now] help his own cause. He also pitched seven sharp innings. Yasiel Puig made an amazing catch. He also got doubled off second on an infield fly. The Puig giveth, the Puig taketh away.

White Sox 3, Yankees 2: Chris Sale came back from the DL and took a no-hitter into the sixth. He left the game after six having allowed only one hit, no runs, no walks and striking out 10. Yeah, I think he’s gonna be just fine.

Braves 5, Brewers 4: The Braves rallied after being down 4-1 in the sixth thanks to two improbable things: (1) a B.J. Upton home run; and (2) Brewers manager Ron Roenicke screwing up and calling Will Smith in to the game when he hadn’t been warming up in the bullpen. He got his eight warmup pitches on the field but then gave up a two-run RBI single to Ryan Doumit. I feel like some savvy telecom company could make a decent add involving bullpen phones out of this if they wanted to.

Pirates 3, Nationals 1: Mark Melancon put two runners on in the ninth and then allowed a sinking liner by Anthony Rendon. Thankfully Andrew McCutchen was there to make a sliding grab to end the game. The MVP had two RBI too.

Indians 8, Orioles 6: The third extra innings game in four games for the Indians. Third win in those four extra innings game too, and a four-game winning streak overall. Carlos Santana played the hero here with a two-run double in the 13th. It was a big hole for Terry Francona’s group to dig out of, but they’ve moved a lot of dirt in the past four days.

Cubs 5, Padres 1: A homer and a double for former Padre Anthony Rizzo. Jake Arrieta allowed only one run and four hits, striking out seven and walking only one. The Padres have played 48 games. In 15 of them they have scored one or zero runs.

Mariners 3, Astros 1: Michael Saunders legged out an infield single with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, driving in two runs in what was then a 1-1 game. The play was reviewed on replay but upheld.

Giants 2, Rockies 2: SUSPENDED: At some point later this year they’ll complete this one, picking up where they left off: tied up in the sixth with two outs and Michael Cuddyer on first. Unless Cuddyer dies in a zeppelin accident or something before the game resumes, in which case they’ll use someone else. Which will make that the most somber pinch running experience ever, even if it makes for one of the more interesting Jayson Stark factoid columns ever written.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: