And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 2, Padres 1: Clayton Kershaw’s scoreless innings streak was snapped after 41 2/3 innings when he gave up a homer to Chase Headley in the sixth inning, but other than that he was fantastic, striking out 11 while tossing a three-hitter and notching a complete game. The ERA is now down to 1.78.

Cubs 6, Reds 4: The Cubs avoid the rare five-game sweep thanks to Arismendy Alcantara, who had four hits and scored what proved to be the winning run in the 12th. It was part of a two-run triple hit by Luis Valbuena which he tried to stretch into an inside-the-park home run. Nice try, but it proved to be unnecessary.

Red Sox 4, White Sox 3: Sox win. Mike Carp walked ’em off with a pinch-hit RBI single in the 10th. Jon Lester gave up only one run on seven hits with 12 strikeouts and no walks. In his last six starts, he’s 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA, 39 strikeouts and six walks in 44 2/3 innings. He hasn’t given up a homer in 45 innings.

Phillies 9, Brewers 1: Matt Garza had took a no-hitter into the seventh. That ended there, and the shuotout ended in the eighth when Philly put up a seven-spot. The Phillies sweep the Brewers in four. And the Brewers’ freefall continues: they’ve lost nine of ten.

Orioles 4, Nationals 3: Steve Pearce homered and scored twice as Batlimore takes two of three (the rain took one) from Washington. The Orioles have won eight of ten.

Athletics 6, Giants 1: Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer and Stephen Vogt drove in three to back up Scott Kazmir, who struck out nine in seven scoreless innings. Oakland has won seven of eight.

Indians 9, Yankees 3: The Indians presented Derek Jeter with an electric guitar which was painted white with Yankees pinstripes before the game, inscribed with Jeter’s No. 2 and the words, “The Captain.” That was the only good thing that happened to the Yankees yesterday. In the game they blew a 3-0 lead and didn’t score again after that. Roberto Perez homered as part of a five-run eighth inning. The Indians catcher was two for three with a walk in his debut.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.
 Braves 3, Mets 1:

Angels 15, Rangers 6: It was 13-2 after three innings so, yeah. Mike Trout had a three-run homer and four hits and four RBI overall. The Angels won for the seventh time in eight games. Texas has lost five straight and 19 of 22.

Pirates 9, Cardinals 1: Edinson Volquez tossed a six-hit complete game allowing only one. Two RBI a piece for Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, Russell Martin and Andrew McCutchen.

Tigers 16, Royals 4: Another laugher, as the Tigers explain to the Royals that they are in first place and you, Kansas City, are firmly in second. Every Tigers hitter got a hit and scored a run. The Tigers have won four straight in Kauffman Stadium, outscoring the Royals 42-12.

Twins 4, Mariners 2: Kendrys Morales had a two-run double to back up Yohan Pino, who got his first big league victory by allowing one run over five. Then he was sent down to the minors because politics, man.

The Mets are a mess

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The Mets lost again on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Braves. It’s their sixth consecutive loss and the club is now in last place in the NL East. Not exactly the start the Mets envisioned.

Matt Harvey got the start, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on five hits and five walks with only one strikeout. After the game, Harvey said he was tight and that he threw yesterday expecting to start on Friday instead, per Matt Ehalt of The Record. Sounds like no one communicated to Harvey that he’d be starting this afternoon until it was too late for him to properly prepare.

Harvey started because Noah Syndergaard was scratched due to a “tired arm.” Syndergaard blew reporters off after the game, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma then added that Syndergaard ripped Mets P.R. guy Jay Horwitz for letting reporters approach him.

By the way, the Mets also lost outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a hamstring injury. Not much else can go wrong in Queens.

Joey Votto isn’t on board with the latest fly ball trend among hitters

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If you haven’t heard, fly balls — not ground balls or line drives — are all the rage among hitters these days. Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez summed it up perfectly last month when he said, “I’m not trying to hit a [freaking] line drive or a freaking ground ball.” The goal is to maximize damage. Last year, for example, fly balls became hits about 17 percent less often than ground balls (7.4% versus 24.6%), but hitters had a slugging percentage more than twice as much as on ground balls (.539 versus .267). This refocusing has helped hitters like Martinez as well as Ryan Zimmerman reinvigorate their careers.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is as much a student of new age analytics as anyone in the game, doesn’t feel that this approach is necessarily a good one, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto said:

Where I get concerned is the guys that make this attempt and burn out too much of their time and don’t get a chance to be their best selves, and either don’t make it to the big leagues or don’t perform their best in the big leagues because they’re always attempting this new style of hitting. I see it with a lot of guys. Everyone tells the good stories, but there’s a lot of s—ty stories of guys who are wasting their time trying things.

Votto added that while the fly ball approach is working right now, pitchers will soon adapt and the fly ball approach won’t be so good anymore. And he’s right. Baseball has always been a game of adjustments. For example, as teams have gotten comfortable with shifting their infield, hitters like the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber have both dropped bunts down the third base line for easy hits. Knowing that hitters are aiming to hit fly balls now, pitchers may stay higher in the strike zone more often as one possible solution.

Votto is just trying to stay as well-rounded as possible. He says that he wants to become “unpitchable.” Votto wants to be like Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whom he describes as a guy “who can do absolutely anything he wants” and “at all times [has] all options.”

So far, Votto is having another productive season despite a relatively pedestrian batting average and on-base percentage. He’s hitting .238/.330/.563 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 94 plate appearances. Coincidentally, he’s been hitting way more fly balls than usual as he’s currently carrying a 42.3 percent rate compared to his 33.1 career average, according to FanGraphs. His line drives are way down to 16.9 percent compared to his 25.4 percent career average.