Jordan Zimmermann

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 6, Padres 0: Jordan Zimmermann struck out 12 Padres in the course of a two-hit shutout. The Nationals have won seven of their past nine and are now tied for first place with both Miami and Atlanta. This is the Washington team we all expected last year. Now we’re getting them this year.

Giants 6, Mets 4: Curtis Granderson hit two homers, but that’s still five wins in a row for the Giants and 14 of 17 overall. Gregor Blanco doubled, singled and drove in three runs. They already have a nine and a half game lead in the NL West and it’s not even Flag Day. What? You’re not aware of the traditional “once Flag Day comes it’s OK to not say ‘it’s early, but . . .'” rule?

Mariners 5, Rays 0: Striking out 15 dudes in seven shutout innings is usually enough to get you the win, but Felix Hernandez is used to no decisions in games like that. The M’s scored all five of their runs off Grant Balfour in the ninth. His ERA is now 6.46. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that stuff about the Orioles flunking him on his physical this past offseason was not as much b.s. as Balfour made it out to be at the time.

Reds 4, Phillies 1: Homer Bailey pitched eight one-run innings and drove in the Reds’ first two runs with an RBI single. Billy Hamilton added an insurance two-run homer. They say you shouldn’t let the other team’s best hitters beat you, and Philly definitely took that to heart.

Athletics 11, Orioles 1: The A’s kicked the O’s butt, with John Jaso and Brandon Moss each driving in four, but Manny Machado’s bat-throwing baloney dominated the day. He’s going to wind up getting a suspension out of this I would presume. And it will be well-deserved.

Angels 4, White Sox 2: C.J. Wilson was battling flu symptoms but still allowed only one run while pitching into the seventh. Josh Hamilton drove in three. Hamilton is 8 for 23 and has driven in five since coming off the DL.

Indians 3, Rangers 2: Lonnie Chisenhall singled and scored in the fifth and sixth innings. Granted he’s got 80+ fewer at bats than most of the league leaders, but Chisenhall is now hitting .365/.413/.538 on the year.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: Rain shortened this one to six innings, with Matt Kemp and someone named Jamie Romak — filling in for the injured Puig — each drove in two.

Astros 14, Twins 5:Chris Carter and Jon Singleton each hit grand slams. Bud Norris thinks Singleton should’ve hit a five-run homer instead. Dexter Fowler and George Springer also homered. It’s amazing what power will do to make a joke of a team into a respectable team.

Marlins 4, Cubs 3: Chicago lost for the first time in six games. Henderson Alvarez pitched well for the fish, but left the game early after stepping/reaching/landing awkwardly while covering first base in the sixth. He should be back for his next start, however.

Royals 2, Yankees 1: A passed ball put a runner on third and a groundout scored him. That was the only offense the Yankees could muster against James Shields and the Royals’ pen.

Brewers 1, Pirates 0: Yovani Gallardo outduels Jeff Locke. Both went seven and all that really separated them was the RBI single Locke surrendered.

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.

Diamondbacks 6, Braves 5: Chase Anderson has five major league starts. He has won all five of them. David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt each hit two-run homers in the Dbacks’ six-run seventh innings. The Braves have fallen back into a first place tie with the Nats and Marlins.

Cardinals 5, Blue Jays 0: Seven shutout innings for Jaime Garcia led to the Cards shutting out one of the most explosive offenses in baseball for two straight games with identical 5-0 scores. Even in a loss on Friday Cardinals pitchers held the Jays to three runs. Nice effort.

Red Sox 5, Tigers 3: David Ortiz hit a three-run homer in the ninth to put the Sox ahead. The blast came off Joba Chamberlain, not Joe Nathan, so the Tigers’ bullpen woes continue in widespread, as opposed to limited and specific fashion.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.

Report: Juan Uribe is too expensive for the Giants

New York Mets' Juan Uribe follows the flight of his solo home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chris Rusin in the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that, while the Giants are interested in free agent Juan Uribe, the utilityman’s asking price is too high for the club. Despite having a capable starter at every position, the Giants are a bit thin on depth and Uribe would be a nice fit given his versatility.

Uribe, 36, spent last season with the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets. He hit a combined .253/.320/.417 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI over 397 plate appearances. In his only postseason plate appearance for the Mets, he hit an RBI single in Game 3 of the World Series against the Royals.

Uribe has mostly played third base in recent seasons, but also has plenty of experience at second base and shortstop.

A study showed “grit” isn’t always a great attribute

Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper slides into third with a three RBI triple during the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, April 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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This popped up in my Twitter feed and I felt it had some applicability to baseball. This past October, Olga Khazan of The Atlantic highlighted a study in which researchers from the University of Southern California and Northeastern University performed three separate but related experiments to determine how “gritty” their subjects were.

One experiment had them solve anagrams. The second, a computer game. Finally, the third test had them solve math problems. Those who were deemed “grittier” attempted to solve fewer anagrams, which means they were sticking too long with difficult words rather than skipping and moving onto easier ones. The “grittier” crowd worked harder when losing at the computer game, but worked only as hard as the less-gritty when winning. With the math problems, the subjects when stuck were given a choice to take $1 and quit or keep going for a potential reward of $2 but $0 if they failed. The study showed that the “grittier” people weren’t any more productive but were more willing to risk the $1 for the doubled prize.

“Grit” is also a common colloquialism in baseball circles, used to refer to players who always run out a routine ground ball or pop-up. Other common characteristics include a willingness to dive for fly balls, slide into players to break up double plays, and to stick up for their teammates when there’s a disagreement between members of two teams. Often, those deemed “gritty” are in many other ways subpar players, but their perceived “grit” gives them value.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is a rare superstar player who has earned the “grit” descriptor. There are many examples showing why he has earned it, but the most famous incident occurred on May 13, 2013 at Dodger Stadium. Harper turned his back to the field to chase an A.J. Ellis fly ball but went face-first into the wall, suffering abrasions on his face and a jammed left shoulder. This was during a game the Nationals were comfortably winning 6-0 in the sixth inning. At the time, the Nationals were 95 percent favorites to win the game, according to FanGraphs. Is the risk of suffering an injury — which could keep Harper out only a game or two, or cause him to miss the rest of the season — worth potentially turning a double or triple into an out?

Famously, Philadelphia fans and talking heads got on outfielder Bobby Abreu’s case in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s because he appeared gun-shy when approaching the outfield fence on fly balls. He was under a lot of pressure to sacrifice his body for the supposed good of the team, and developed a reputation as “soft”. As a more recent example, former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins caught flack from fans when he didn’t run out a routine pop-up against the Mets on August 30, 2012. Then-manager Charlie Manuel benched the veteran. At the time, the Phillies were 62-69 and 17.5 games back of first place in the NL East and 8.5 games behind the second Wild Card. Freak injuries can happen, as Rollins’ teammate Ryan Howard showed when making the final out of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals. Is that non-zero injury risk worth the tiny chance that the infielder drops the pop-up and Rollins gets a single (or, in rarer cases, a double) in a game that is essentially meaningless?

The aforementioned study shows that maybe Abreu and Rollins had it right after all. Statistically, a freak injury that occurs on a “hustle” play is bound to happen. Maybe that’s what it will take to stop expecting athletes to put their bodies on the line for no realistic gain.

Zach Britton settles with the Orioles for $6.75 million

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Boston. The Orioles won 6-4. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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The Orioles and closer Zach Britton avoided an arbitration hearing, agreeing to a $6.75 million salary for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman reports. The club has now handled all of its remaining arbitration cases and won’t have to go to a hearing with any players.

Britton, in his second of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $7.9 million while the Orioles countered at $5.6 million. $6.75 million is exactly the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

The 28-year-old lefty saved 36 games in 40 chances last season for the O’s while putting up a 1.92 ERA with a 79/14 K/BB ratio over 65 2/3 innings.