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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 6, Rockies 3: Chase Utley tied it on an RBI single in the ninth and then Ryan Howard hit a walkoff three-run bomb. Thing is, LaTroy Hawkins should’ve had the game closed out before either of those guys came to the plate, but Josh Rutledge had a throwing error which allowed both Utley and Howard to bat with two outs.

Athletics 3, Tigers 1: Another game, another wakoff three-run home run. This one from Josh Donaldson off Joe Nathan, who was trying to preserve a 1-0 lead handed to him by a dominant-until-the-ninth Anibal Sanchez. That threw the win to the equally deserving Scott Kazmir, who allowed only one run while going the distance.

White Sox 3, Indians 2: Moises Sierra drove in the winning run with a walkoff single. Both T.J. House for the Indians and Hector Noesi for the Sox pitched some pretty spiffy baseball, but neither factored in to the decision. Jason Giambi hit his 440th home run. Then he and his mule went back into the canyon, ready to scare off any other snoopers who come nosing around to jump his claim.

Mets 5, Pirates 0: Bartolo Colon tossed a shutout into the eighth and was at the plate for the wild pitch that scored the first Mets run. And he looked like this as he swung at it:

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In his defense, he looks like that when he swings at everything. And he’s 0 for 17 on the year with ten strikeouts. I feel like the DH in the NL is inevitable, but I also want them to wait until Bartolo Colon is done playing in the NL because how can you deprive us of this, Baseball Gods?

Astros 9, Royals 3: Another game, another homer for George Springer. That’s nine in May for him. Chris Carter homered twice. The Astros sweep the Royals, who have lost four in a row.

Giants 5, Cubs 0: Six Giants pitchers, led off by Tim Lincecum, combine for a two-hit shutout of the Cubs. Despite only two hits, the Cubs had ten base runners as Giants pitchers walked five and hit a batter and two more Cubs reached on errors. They couldn’t convert, though.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 2: That’s nine straight for Toronto, this one coming on a walkoff E-1 following a bunt to the pitcher. The other two runs scored on an RBI single by Edwin Encarnacion in the first.

Marlins 8, Nationals 5: Miami blew a 4-0 lead but the Nats bullpen fell apart in the tenth with Jerry Blevins and Aaron Barrett allowing four runs of their own. Henderson Alvarez left this one for the Marlins with elbow stiffness. Sadly that’s not too rare a thing in baseball this year.

Red Sox 4, Braves 0: John Lackey pitched a shutout into the seventh and Sox hitters dinked and dunked Gavin Floyd and Alex Wood to death. Three straight wins for Boston now. This one coming on Idiots Day at Fenway.

Brewers 8, Orioles 3: Nelson Cruz hit homers 18 and 19, but they came in a losing effort. Ryan Braun’s two-run double and Khris Davis’ three-run homer came in a winning effort.

Rangers 1, Twins 0: Joe Saunders and four relievers combine for the shutout, with their only run of support coming on a Luis Sardinas single in the seventh. Not bad for Saunders, who was making his first start in two months.

Yankees 7, Cardinals 4: Hiroki Kuroda won on the road for the first time in 11 starts, stretching back to last year. Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and three RBI. The Yankees take the series. Brian McCann started at first base and went 2 for 4. So that was something.

Diamondbacks 12, Padres 6: An eight-run first for Arizona pretty much ended this one before it started. Dbacks starter Chase Anderson got 18 runs of support in the start before this one. He’s gonna get spoiled.

Mariners 3, Angels 1: King Felix took a shutout into the ninth and struck out nine. Mike Zunino drove in both of the M’s runs, one on a solo shot.

Reds 3, Dodgers 2: Clayton Kershaw pitched OK, but Homer Bailey pitched better. Yasiel Puig hit a solo homer, but Brandon Phillips hit a two-run shot. Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you.

 

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.