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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 1, Tigers 0: When the story is told of the 2014 Wild Card winning Yankees, someone is gonna talk about back-to-back great starts by Chris Capuano and Shane Greene, of all people, against the Detroit Tigers. Or maybe I’m nuts, but if the Yankees haven’t been killed yet, maybe they’re impossible to kill? Ever think of that? Huh?

Nationals 5, Mets 3: Bryce Harper with the walkoff two-run homer in the 13th inning. Not bad for a guy who, less than 48 hours ago, was at the center of a little blowup about whether he should be sent to the minors. Leave the kid alone. Let him get healthy. He’s gonna produce.

Reds 4, Indians 0: I guess Bryan Price calling out his players after Monday’s game was effective, because they turned around and took the next three from the Indians. Homer Bailey with seven shutout innings and eight Ks. Billy Hamilton had an RBI triple and scored a run. The guy he knocked in was Bailey. But then he was thrown out rounding third too far. Speed is great, but sometimes speed kills, man.

Pirates 7 Marlins 2: Gregory Polanco drove in four and Edinson Volquez pitched one-hit, shutout ball over seven. But all of this was overshadowed by a scary moment in the seventh when Marlins reliever Dan Jennings was hit in the head by a line drive comebacker. Our friend Old Gator provides some detail:

“The ball came off of Jordy Mercer’s bat at 101 MPH, caught Jennings on the upper right side of his head and bounced straight up and then back in an arc far enough to be caught on the fly by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria for the out. That’s a hard hit ball.”

It was hard to watch. He got hit, popped up and then was clearly dazed before falling again. In some ways it’s almost more unsettling to see that than to see a guy stay down. Thankfully he was able to make it to the trainer’s cart under his own power and wave to the crowd. But he sure as hell looked out of it while doing it. Figure a lot of time off for Jennings to come back from this.

Phillies 6, Astros 5: Ryan Howard has certainly woken up this week. A grand slam here, which capped a five-run rally in the eighth when the Phillies were down 5-1. A three-game sweep for the Phillies, who overcame two homers from Chris Carter.

Cubs 6, Rockies 2: Two more homers for Javier Baez, who is certainly having a nice opening series. To be sure, he opened in Colorado and has been facing pitchers who, arguably, are not as good as the guys he was facing down in Iowa. But rather than consider that some sort of detraction from his accomplishments, let us consider that a testament to the Cubs for putting a guy in the right place to succeed.

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1: A tightly pitched game and a rather tough luck loss for J.A. Happ, who struck out 12 over eight innings. One mistake, though: Caleb Joseph hit him up for a two-run homer early and that was all the O’s would get. But it was all they’d need as Miguel Gonzalez and the Orioles pen was just better.

Brewers 3, Giants 1: Wily Peralta is the first pitcher in baseball to reach 14 wins this year as he tosses six and two-thirds of one-run ball while striking out a career-high nine. Jake Peavy is now 0-12 in his last 18 outings. That’s just– man, that’s just.

Royals 6, Diamondbacks 2: Jeremy Guthrie scattered seven hits and allowed only two runs will pitching a shutout as the Royals sweep the Dbacks. Randall Delgado pitched three shutout innings in relief. Which is weird, because I was positive that he got a suspension for intentionally hitting Andrew McCutchen last weekend. It is most irregular that he was allowed to play.

Cardinals 5, Red Sox 2: Adam Wainwright with seven solid innings. His final out came after Mike Matheny came to the mound to check on him. Matheny let him face Yoenies Cespedes. From the game story: “[Cespedes] took a third strike on a full-count curveball and catcher Tony Cruz sprinted to the dugout before home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom raised his right arm.” Oooooh . . . The Unfair One!

Athletics 3, Twins 0: Meanwhile, the guy who was traded for Cespedes, Jon Lester, tossed a three-hit shutout. I’d say that was a good pickup at the deadline.

Mariners 13, White Sox 3: Roenis Elias took a no-hitter into the fifth and notched his fourth straight good start in a row and then he got optioned to Tacoma. Oh well, that’s life for guys on innings limits. Dustin Ackley had four RBI and Endy Chavez, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager each had two-run homers. And, while I didn’t see this, reader CMP78 writes in to tell me we had some grit-in-action. In his words: “The Mariners hit Jose Abreu twice this evening, both unintentionally. The White Sox in retaliation hit Kendrys Morales. The very next hitter, Kyle Seager, hit a two-run home run to make it 13-3.”

Dodgers 7, Angels 0: Hyun-Jin Ryu with seven two-hit shutout innings. Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez each had two-run singles. A lot of people in L.A. think there’s a great chance that the Dodgers and Angels will meet in the World Series. If they do, the Angels had better figure something out, because they just dropped three of four to their freeway rivals.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: