Marlins celebration

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 7, Nationals 6: Rafael Soriano and a three-run lead in the ninth seems safe. Not last night it wasn’t. The Marlins rallied for four, capped by a Jeff Baker two-run single. The Nats had a 6-0 lead at one point here. This is the kind of game that comes back to haunt later in the season when things are tight. Or at least what this Braves fan’s wishful thinking is telling him.

Mets 7, Phillies 1: A.J. Burnett was probably a decent trade deadline candidate until recently. But he has certainly put the kibosh on that. Seven runs allowed here in five innings and six runs in five innings two starts ago vs. eight shutout innings against the Giants six days ago. You willing to bet a prospect on that anyone? I don’t know that I would be.

Rays 2, Brewers 1: Jake Odorizzi allowed one run and three hits in seven innings and a couple of RBI from James Loney. Also: a kind of compliment by Ron Roenicke to former Angels coaching colleague Joe Maddon: “Joe is out there, but he’s got great common sense and you don’t usually see that in a guy that’s out there.” Thanks?

Braves 2, Padres 0: Ervin Santana was fantastic — 11 Ks in seven innings — but the story here is, or at least should be, Jason Lane pitching six solid innings in his first major league start at age 37. This after seven years in the wilderness when his career as a hitter fizzled out. You don’t make this long, hard climb back unless you are made out of pure, unadulterated desire and unless you love baseball like no one’s business. Jason Lane is a story waiting to be told. Someone please tell it, because I bet it’s fantastic.

Blue Jays 14, Red Sox 1: I guess it was a game until the sixth inning. Then the Jays put up a nine-spot. Which in the metric system is, like, a three-spot I guess. I dunno, I always had a hard time with conversions like that. All I know is that Toronto unloaded hectares and liters and kilos of hurt on Boston. Clay Buchholz couldn’t retire anyone in the sixth and gave up seven runs in all. Five RBI for Mely Cabrera, four for Ryan Goins. R.A. Dickey struck out ten and allowed one run in seven innings. I guess no one ever taught him to pitch to the score.

Cubs 4, Rockies 1: Tsuyoshi Wada picked up his first big league win in his third big league start, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings. Anthony Rizzo drove in two.

Astros 7, Athletics 3: Homers from Chris Carter, Jason Castro, Marc Krauss and Matt Dominguez. Carter’s was a three-run shot. His was of saying ‘ello to this old friends on the A’s. Castro and Krauss went back-to-back in the sixth.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $10,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 4, Yankees 2: Two runs on nine hits (scatters, smothered and capped) in seven innings for Yu Darvish. He struck out eight as well. Two homers for Brett Gardner in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Diamondbacks 2, Reds 1: A 15 inning affair that ended a bit before midnight a bit after Nick Ahmed hit an RBI single in the top of the inning. Twelve pitchers used in all, most of whom put up zeroes in the box score. Indeed, Dbacks relievers combined for eight shutout innings after starter Chase Anderson managed to allow just one run in seven. As an Ohioan who has been to Cincinnati an awful lot, I truly have to wonder where the players in this one go out for dinner afterward. Like, it’s Taco Bell I guess. Great town in some respects, but not a night life kind of town. Should make next year’s All-Star Game all kinds of fun.

Pirates 5 vs. Giants 0: 4-0 in the first on a night when Vance Worley needed almost no help at all, tossing a four-hit shutout. It was his second career complete game. His first: against the Giants as well.

 

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]