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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 7, Athletics 6: David Ortiz’s home run in the 10th wins it for Boston. More fun than a game-winning homer for Oritz (ho-hum) was the fact that Mike Napoli stole home in the third inning. OK, it was one of those “steal home when the opposition is paying way more attention to the guy at first base” plays, which should probably be scored some variation on a fielder’s choice or something, but still. Oh, and in the fifth, he homered. With that speed-power combination it’s like he’s like Rickey Henderson or something.

Pirates 2, Cubs 1: Brandon Cumpton pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. Probably worth noting that we’ve basically reached Peak Brandon in Major League Baseball these days. I went to Baseball-Reference.com and counted 41 Brandons who have played major league baseball. Twenty-two of them are currently active and another 15 of them have been active no later than 2004.

Reds 4, Blues Jays 3: Johnny Cueto gave up three runs –only one earned — and lowered his NL-leading ERA to 1.86. He gave up seven hits and struck out eight in the process. Also in the process: Brett Lawrie broke his finger while being hit by a pitch and Jose Bautista left with tightness in his leg.

Tigers 10, Indians 4: The Tigers are back in first place after a series sweep in Cleveland. Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three. They were up 10-1 in the ninth before rookie reliever Chad Smith allowed three runs. Even their mop-up bullpen work is shaky.

Mets 11, Marlins 5: Often-times eleven runs on 17 hits is a week’s worth of output for the Mets. With Jon Niese on the mound, no less, who normally gets boned in the run support department. Just to be safe, though, he laid down a suicide squeeze bunt at one point.

Rays 5, Astros 2: The Rays took three of four. But hey, it’s the Astros. The Rays are 8-18 over their past 26 games, but five of those wins have come against Houston in seven of those 26 games.

Nationals 4, Braves 1: The series split is a win for the Nats who (a) stayed in first place; and (b) have had a whale of a time against the Braves over the past year or so. Some actual wisdom from Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, though, who commented on he face that Atlanta won the first two games of the series but dropped the last two:

“You know what, it’s funny, baseball is. If we would’ve lost the first two games and won the last two games you’d be feeling pretty good about yourselves. It didn’t happen that way, it happened the other way, so you’re not feeling real good about yourself.”

Narratives, baby.

Orioles 8, Yankees 0: The Orioles scored three off Masahiro Tanaka and beat him. That’s quite the accomplishment. I half expected to see Tony Burton come out of the dugout wearing his Duke costume from Rocky IV and yell “He’s worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He’s not a machine, he’s a man!” [Craig returns to his computer after refilling his coffee and sees Bill Simmons running away, cackling after typing that last comment].

Cardinals 5, Phillies 3: Carlos Martinez starts have been bullpen games, really, as he’s not fully stretched out. No fear, though, because the bullpen has been pretty darn good finishing his games out. Here Nick Greenwood, Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal combined for four innings of scoreless relief. Mark Ellis drove in two runs, including the go-ahead run with a safety squeeze in the fourth.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Mariners 2, Royals 1: The Royals came home in first place then they went and done got swept. They’ve lost four in a row, actually. Close games, but still. Roenis Elias allowed one run in six and two-thirds. Mike Zunino homered.

Twins 6, White Sox 5: The four-game sweep for the Twins. Phil Hughes has been fantastic lately, though he wasn’t here. The offense picked him up, though, led by Joe Mauer who had two hits and two RBI.

Dodgers 2, Padres 1: The Dodgers are now winners of 10 of 14 after taking two of three games in San Diego. They haven’t lost a series in Petco since 2010. If you believe in crowd support actually helping teams it’s not hard to understand why. I went to a Padres-Dodgers game at Petco last September and the place is basically Dodger Stadium South.

Brewers 6, Rockies 5: Oh dear. Oh my. How — er, just. Oh my:

The guy after Dickerson homered, which — if Dickerson had either not stumbled or simply been at third base, would’ve tied the game. That’s the sixth loss in a row and the second straight series sweep for the Rockies. Who look as if they’re playing little league ball lately.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1: Madison Bumgarner allowed an unearned run and that’s it over eight. Brandon Crawford scored a run and drove on in. The Giants are the epicenter of Peak Brandon, by the way, with Crawford, Belt and Hicks. To bad Brandon Wood was a bust. Maybe he coulda found his way to San Francisco, allowing the Giants to field the first-ever All-Brandon infield.

Angels 5, Rangers 2: Matt Shoemaker won his fifth straight decision and C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun homered in the fourth off Yu Darvish. By the way, we’re also at Peak C.J. these days. Five C.J.s have played major league baseball four of whom are active and two of which play for the Angels.

It’s pretty stupid that athletes can’t endorse beer

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner celebrates after pitching the Giants to a 8-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) ORG XMIT: PAGP102
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One of the more amusing things to spin out of the Super Bowl were Peyton Manning’s little Budweiser endorsements in his postgame interviews. It was hilarious, really, to see him shoehorn in references to going and cracking a crisp cool Budweiser multiple times. It was more hilarious when a Budweiser representative tweeted that Manning was not paid to do that. Of course, Manning owns an interest in alcohol distributorships so talking about The King of Beers was in his best financial interest all the same.

After that happened people asked whether or not Manning would face discipline about this from the NFL, as players are not allowed to endorse alcoholic beverages. This seemed crazy to me. I had no idea that they were actually banned from doing so. Then I realized that, huh, I can’t for the life of me remember seeing beer commercials with active athletes, so I guess maybe it’s not so crazy. Ken Rosenthal later tweeted that Major League Baseball has a similar ban in place. No alcohol endorsements for ballplayers.

Why?

I mean, I can fully anticipate why the leagues would say athletes can’t do it. Think of the children! Role models! Messages about fitness! All that jazz. I suspect a more significant reason is that the leagues and their partners — mostly Anheuser-Busch/InBev — would prefer not to allow high-profile athletes to shill for a competitor. How bad would it look for Alex Rodriguez to do spots for Arrogant Bastard Ale when there are Budweiser signs hanging in 81% of the league’s ballparks? Actually, such ads would look WONDERFUL, but you know what I mean here.

That aside, it does strike me as crazy hypocritical that the leagues can rake in as much as they do from these companies while prohibiting players from getting in on the action. If it is kids they’re worried about, how can they deny that they endorse beer to children every bit as effectively and possibly more so than any one athlete can by virtue of putting it alongside the brands that are the NFL and MLB? Personally I don’t put much stock in a think-of-the-children argument when it comes to beer — it’s everywhere already and everyone does a good job of pushing the “drink responsibly” message — but if those are the leagues’ terms, they probably need to ask themselves how much of a distinction any one athlete and the entire league endorsing this stuff really is.

That aside, sports and beer — often sponsored by active players — have a long, long history together:

Musial

And the picture at the top of this post certainly shows us that Major League Baseball has no issues whatsoever in having its players endorse Budweiser in a practical sense.

Why can’t they get paid for doing it?

The Orioles signed Rafael Palmeiro’s son

Rafael Palmeiro
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Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.

Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.

As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.

This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.