And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 2, Athletics 1: Collin Cowgill with a two-out, walkoff homer in the bottom of the 14th inning. Which was great and gave the Angels their fifth straight win, but may not have been as impressive as the throw Yoenis Cespedes made in the eighth inning to nail Howie Kendrick at the plate:

I mean, sure, he deserves to have all of us respect-the-gamesplain to him that one shouldn’t airmail it past the cutoff man like that, but apart from his nearly inexcusable fundamental lapse there, it was, like, maybe the best throw any of us will ever see in our lifetimes.

Cardinals 1, Rays 0: Adam Wainwright won his ninth game after tossing seven shutout innings. Two more shutout innings for the Cards pen brings the Rays’ scoreless streak up to a whopping 28 innings. They have lost 14 of 15 too. The Cards have three straight shutouts too, but it’s the good kind. You know, the kind you win.

Mets 6, Brewers 2: Taylor Teagarden hit a grand slam in his Mets debut. Travis d’Arnaud sighs mightily from Las Vegas. Also: Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched six effective innings, lowering his ERA to 2.95 and upping his record to 3-0. So, yeah, it was a pretty good night for heretofore uninspiring castoffs.

Twins 4, Blue Jays 0: The power-packed Blue Jays are suddenly punchless, having been shutout for the third time in four games. See, above comment about the Cardinals for an explanation of that. Kevin Correia allowed six hits, walked one and struck out one in six innings.

Phillies 5, Padres 2: Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer and A.J. Burnett was effective. Hard not to be effective against the Padres these days.

Diamondbacks 4, Astros 1: My daughter, Mookie, is on summer vacation. Yesterday it was raining and she walks downstairs and turns on the TV. I hear her flipping around a bit in the next room as I’m working. She passes silly documentaries about killer bees that she usually eats up like crazy, passes Nickelodeon sitcoms aimed at tweens. She lands on the only baseball game on TV — this one — and starts watching. Two last place teams on a Tuesday afternoon had the full attention of my ten-year-old daughter for a good hour or more. I walked by once to check and she was engrossed. Not in some showy way in which she was wanting to demonstrate that she likes baseball. Not because she stopped changing channels then and just got stuck. She just wanted to watch baseball on TV and did, and I can’t think of anything that would make me happier than that.

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

Cubs 7, Pirates 3: Gregory Polanco’s debut is why this game was interesting, but Anthony Rizzo‘s homer, two doubles and three RBI is why this game was won. Polanco went 1 for 5 and had one of Rizzo’s double bounce off his wrist so, yes, there will be better days for the big prospect.

Nationals 2, Giants 1: Doug Fister outduels Madison Bumgarner, allowing no runs over seven to Bumgarner’s two runs over seven.

Royals 9, Indians 5: The Indians scored 17 runs on Monday but they were shut out by Jason Vargas into the eighth inning last night. After that he and the pen faltered a bit, but nine runs — three driven in by Eric Hosmer — is a good cushion to play with.

Braves 13, Rockies 10: The Braves jumped out to a 7-0 lead and, given the way Coors has been playing for the past week or so, and given the Braves’ bullpen woes of late, I thought “eh, maybe get a few more just in case.” They added a touchdown and missed the extra point but they pretty much needed all of that. Atlanta had a season-highs of 16 hits and 13 runs, including a grand slam from Andrelton Simmons.

Yankees 3, Mariners 2: An RBI single for Jacoby Ellsbury helped the Yankees win and helped him extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Also, Derek Jeter was reanimated for the evening: he had two hits and scored two runs.

Red Sox 1, Orioles 0: Brandon Workman handled the first six and two-thirds innings of the shutout and the bullpen carried the rest. The game’s sole run came on a Mike Napoli RBI single in the third.

Dodgers 6, Reds 1: Josh Beckett with six shutout innings, with seven strikeouts and one walk. This after a two-hour rain delay. Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Justin Turner each had two hits and Beckett had one of his own. L.A. has won three in a row and four of five.

Marlins 8, Rangers 5: I had no idea they had such a streak going, but the Marlins win was their 13th in a row vs. an American League opponent. Christian Yelich had four hits and four RBI.

Tigers vs. White Sox: POSTPONED: Another rainy day New York City. Softly sweet, so silently it falls. Crosstown traffic crawls. Windy, wet and gray New York City. No one here I really want to see. Friends and family. Suddenly serene. The air is fresh and clean. Another rainy day New York City.

It’s another rainy day
Just a rainy, rainy day
It’s another rainy day
Just a rainy, rainy day

It’s another rainy day
Just a rainy, rainy day
It’s another rainy day
Just a rainy, rainy day

It’s another rainy day
Just a rainy, rainy day
It’s another rainy day
Just a rainy, rainy day

The Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager

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Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend that the Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager. Part of that comes after team meetings between Snitker and top brass. Some of it, however, is likely attributable to player sentiment, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting this morning that Freddie Freeman and several Braves players have told the Braves front office that they want Snitker back.

Is it a good idea to bring Snitker back? Eh, I’m leaning no, with the caveat that it probably doesn’t make a huge difference in the short term.

The “no” is based mostly on the fact that Snitker has had a disturbing trend of preferring veterans over young players, as Bradley explains in detail here. For a brief moment this summer the Braves seemed surprisingly competitive. Not truly competitive if anyone was being honest, but they were hovering around .500 and were arguably in the wild card race. Around that time he made a number of questionable decisions that favored marginal and/or injured veterans over some young players who will be a part of the next truly competitive Braves team, likely messing with their confidence and possibly messing with their development.

These moves were not damaging, ultimately, to the 2017 Braves on the field — they were going to be under .500 regardless — but it was the sort of short-term thinking that a manager for a rebuilding team should not be employing. Part of the blame for this, by the way, can be put on the front office, who only gave Snitker a one-year contract when they made him the permanent manager last year, creating an incentive for him to win in 2017 rather than manage the club the way a guy who knows when the team will truly be competitive should manage it. Then again, if Snitker was so great a candidate in the front office’s mind, why did they only give him a one-year contract?

I suspect a lot of it has to do with loyalty. Snitker has been an admirable Braves company man for decades, and that was certainly worthy of respect by the club. That he got the gig was likewise due in part to the players liking him — the veteran players — and they now are weighing in with their support once again. At some point, however, loyalty and respect of veterans has to take a back seat to a determination of who is the best person to bring the team from rebuilding to competitiveness, and Snitker has not made the case why he is that man.

Earlier, of course, I said it probably doesn’t matter all that much if they do, in fact, bring Snitker back. I say this because he will, in all likelihood, be given a short leash again, probably in the form of a one-year extension. It would not surprise me at all if, in the extraordinarily likely event the Braves look to be outclassed in the division by the Nationals again in 2018, they made a managerial switch midseason, as they did in 2016. If that is, indeed, the plan, it seems like the front office is almost planning on losing again in 2018 and using the future firing of Snitker as a time-buying exercise. Not that I’m cynical or anything.

Either way, I don’t think Snitker is the right guy for the job. Seems, though, that he’ll get at least an offseason and a couple of months to prove me wrong.

Bruce Maxwell on anthem protest: “If it ends up driving me out of baseball, then so be it”

Associated Press
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For the second straight day, Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the national anthem before the A’s game against the Texas Rangers. Afterward, he said he did not care what the repercussions might be:

“If it ends up driving me out of baseball, then so be it. This is bigger than a monetary standpoint, this is bigger than the uniform I put on every day. This is about the people in this country and we all deserve to be treated equally. That’s the whole purpose of us taking a knee during the national anthem.”

And make no mistake, there will be repercussions of one kind or another. The immediate ones are pretty predictable: Maxwell says he has received threats since his first protest on Saturday night, including racial epithets and warnings “to watch [his] back.” These came via the Internet and Maxwell has brushed it off as the act of “keyboard warriors.”

The more interesting question will be whether there will be career repercussions. He has received support from the A’s, but even the supportive comments come with at least a hint of foreboding. Here’s his manager, Bob Melvin:

“It does take a lot of courage because you know that now the potential of the crosshairs are on you and for a guy who’s not as established, I’m sure, and I’m not speaking for him, but I’m sure there were some feelings for him that there was some risk. I do know that he felt better about it afterwards because there’s a lot of uncertainty when you take that type of step.”

I don’t feel like Melvin is referring to the threats exclusively, there, given the reference to Maxwell not being “as established.” That’s a phrase used exclusively to refer to a player’s standing within the game. As long as Melvin is the A’s manager and Maxwell plays for him, sure, it may very well be the case that only Maxwell’s ability as a player will impact his future. But Melvin seems to be acknowledging here — correctly — that this act of non-conformity on Maxwell’s part could be career limiting. Heck, his teammate, Mark Canha, voices concern over the fact that he merely put his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder in support. He’s worried that that might be seen as bad for him.

And if you don’t read that into Melvin or Canha’s words, fine. Because it’s very clear based on the words of others around the league that Maxwell’s sort of protest might be considered . . . problematic. From the story that Ashley linked yesterday, let’s focus again on the words of Pirates GM Neal Huntington:

“We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Does that sound like a man who is going to judge a player based solely on his baseball contributions? Heck no it doesn’t. How about if Maxwell lands on the Dodgers?

Make no mistake: Matthews is taking a risk with his protest. There are a number of teams — likely more than will admit it publicly — who will hold this against him as they evaluate him as a player.

You can react to this in a couple of ways, I figure. You could nod your head like a sage, adopt the tone of some inside-baseball guy and say “Well, of course! There are consequences for one’s behavior and only those who are naive don’t believe that.” If you do, of course, you’re ignoring the fact that Maxwell has already acknowledged that himself in the quote that appears in the very headline of this story.

Another option: acknowledge his bravery. Acknowledge that he knows damn well that, especially in baseball, that this kind of thing is far more likely to harm his career than help it. If you acknowledge that, you have no choice but to then ask why Maxwell nonetheless continues to protest. Why this is so important to him despite the risks.

That’s when your reacting and your second-guessing should stop and your listening should begin.