Max Scherzer

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 5, Pirates 2: Max Scherzer got his 14th win and struck out 14 men in eight shutout innings. J.D. Martinez helped account for the Tigers’ first three runs with a homer, a bases-loaded walk and an infield single which forced in a run on a Pirates error.

Brewers 6, Cubs 2: Mike Fiers became only the seventh pitcher in the last 100 years to strike out as many as 14 batters in six or fewer innings. This after his first start of the season last weekend saw him outduel Zack Greinke. Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds homered.

Dodgers 6, Braves 4: Dee Gordon three hits and scored four runs. Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez each had three hits as well. The Braves have lost 12 of 14. After the game Freddie Freeman said “We can still make something of this if we keep grinding.” Maybe start grinding first?

Royals 7, Athletics 3: A five-run seventh for the Royals who took five of seven from the A’s in the season series. The A’s may still be the best team in baseball, but the Royals — who have won 18 of 22 — are certainly baseball’s hottest team.

Nationals 4, Mets 1: Two-run homers from Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche and a nice start from Stephen Strasburg gave the Nats their 11th straight win against the Mets on the road. Someone on the Nats is gonna take Chipper Jones’ example and name their kid “Citi.”

Red Sox 9, Astros 4: A seven-run sixth inning for the Sox put this one away. The other day I said something like “teams which score seven runs tend to win games.” Brandon Isleib had my back:

So post-those seven-run innings, take the other eight innings off, win a lot of games and conserve your energy, guys.

Marlins 5, Diamondbacks 4: Marcell Ozuna doubled home Garrett Jones with the winning run in the 10th. Mike Dunn got his 10th win as a reliever. That’s a very 1970s-80s kind of thing. I like it.

Rays 6, Rangers 3: Evan Longoria homered and drove in three. Logan Forsythe had three hits and a two-run homer of his own. After the game Joe Maddon said this of pitcher Jake Odorizzi:

“He’s swaggering out to the mound, and swaggering back in. The whole group is confident.”

This must be Odorizzi’s sweet ride.

Cardinals 4, Padres 3: A disputed call at the plate when Alex Amarista came home with what would have been the tying run. He was called out on a play at the plate. After a lengthy review, the replay officials upheld the out call, but they really appeared to have missed this one. A.J. Pierzynski’s swipe tag looks to have missed, and both he and Amarista acted as if he missed, with Amarista going back to touch the plate and Pierzynski trying desperately to tag him again. Neither guy acts like that if a tag is applied. And, given that there wasn’t a fantastic camera angle on this, my guess is that the replay guys felt like they couldn’t overturn Bob Davison’s initial bad call. Which he made rather tentatively.

Rockies 7, Reds 3: Charlie Culberson hit a three-run homer and Jorge De La Rosa allowed three runs over seven. Culberson is Troy Tulowitzki’s replacement. Before the game the Rockies announced Carlos Gonzalez was done for the year. Just not how anyone drew this up.

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: