And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 3, Diamondbacks 2: Yet another win for the Nationals. Their ninth in a row. Yet another walkoff. Fourth in five games, I think. Anthony Rendon hit the single that scored Bryce Harper in the ninth. Afterwards Harper described the Nats current run: “It’s absolutely epic. That’s the best word I can put out there.” Isn’t that two words? Ah, forget it, he’s rolling.

Tigers 6, Rays 0: A good way to test to see how close attention someone is paying to the Tigers is to ask them who their best pitcher and best hitter have been this season. If they don’t say Rick Porcello and Victor Martinez, they haven’t been paying attention. Porcello tosses a three-hit shutout for his 14th victory and Martinez drove in five.

Rangers 5, Marlins 4: Nick Martinez allowed two runs over six innings and got the win in front of what, for him anyway, was a hometown crowd. After the game he said that it was a big deal winning in Miami because he “grew up watching” the Marlins. I realize the math works out and that I’m an old fart and everything, but it’s hard for me to get my head around anyone growing up watching a team that, to me anyway, feels like it just showed up yesterday. I suppose people in their 50s feel the same way when I talk about growing up watching the Blue Jays come play the Tigers and stuff. Time marches on, though.

Blue Jays 9, Brewers 5: Milwaukee had a five game winning streak of its own snapped. Jose Bautista had a three-run homer in a five-run sixth inning. Here is Brewers manager Ron Roenicke describing the Jays scoring those six and Carlos Gomez hitting a two-run homer to pull Milwaukee closer:

“So tough inning, you know we come back and Gomey gets the two points and we get a little closer, and we give up another homer.

I’m not sure if I’m more disturbed by the “two points” or the “Gomey,” really.

Indians 5, Twins 0: Five Indians pitchers, led by T.J. House, combined to shut out Minnesota on six hits. For whatever reason I get all the Indians transaction news sent directly to me from their front office — I guess I got on the right mailing list a couple of years back — so I see every little option and purchased contract they do, even if it’s not at all newsworthy to most people. Four of the five pitchers in this one — House, C.C. Lee, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Shaw — are regularly featured in those, to the point where I actually spend a lot of time worrying about them. Wondering if they get bored or lonely driving up and down I-71 all the time. Wondering where they live when they’re going back and forth like that all the time. Good to see them go all Voltron like this for a night.

Pirates 3, Braves 2: Atlanta’s five game winning streak comes to an end and Pittsburgh’s seven game losing streak halts at the same time. The winning run came around in part to Justin Upton dropping a routine fly ball. The Upton giveth on Tuesday, taketh away on Wednesday.

Phillies 4, Mariners 3: Cole Hamels has lost a lot when he’s pitched well. Yesterday he won when he didn’t have his best stuff. He probably deserves that more than anyone.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:10pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Mets 8, Athletics 5: Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer. He has hit a LOT of homers in the past couple of months. The Mets and A’s split two. Remember a few years back when there were two-game series all the damn time? God, I hated that. Sometimes it’s good to remember that not everything baseball does is aggravating. Sometimes they fix the aggravating things they did before. In baseball, that’s vision.

Padres 4, Dodgers 1: Eric Stults won and said that he “executed pitches better” than he had. After the Mariners-Phillies game, James Paxton said “I probably could’ve executed pitches a little bit better.” I wish I had the technology to keep a running count for terms like that after games. I think they come and go in cycles. We’re in a big “executing pitches” era these days. It has surpassed “make pitches” by quite a margin, I think.

Rockies 5, Royals 2: The Royals lead in the Central drops to one thanks in part to a Matt McBride grand slam. Not bad for a guy who just got called up a couple of days ago. McBride doesn’t even get a chance to bat that inning if it wasn’t for a Christian Colon error at third that should’ve been out number three.

Giants 8, Cubs 3: First they win the protest over Tuesday night’s washout then they win the game. Not a bad day for San Francisco. Of course, commenters told me all day yesterday that the Cubs grounds crew made no mistake worth noting, so how they won the protest is beyond me. Oh, wait:

Available video of the incident, and conversations with representatives of the Cubs, demonstrate that the Cubs’ inability to deploy the tarp appropriately was caused by the failure to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its last use.  As a result, the groundskeeping crew was unable to properly deploy the tarp after the rain worsened.

Nope, no one screwed up there.

Cardinals 7, Reds 3: The Cards got to Johnny Cueto for five runs in five and Lance Lynn was solid. The Cards have won eight of nine and are almost singlehandedly bringing respectability to the NL Wild Card race. Someone’s gotta.

Orioles 4, White Sox 3: Nelson Cruz took the MLB lead in homers with his 33rd as the O’s sweep the Chisox. The O’s hit three homers in all off Hector Noesi. They lead all of baseball in bombs.

Astros 5, Yankees 2: I probably follow a disproportionate number of Yankees fans on Twitter for whatever reason. And Yankees fans — or these Yankees fans, not sure which — probably gave the Astros disproportionate criticism for all that “2017 World Series champs!” and front office hype that they were getting a little while back. As such, watching them come to grips with the Astros beating the Yankees all the damn time recently has been somewhat amusing. Four of five on the season for Houston. Now: let us see whether the talk about the Yankees still being in the playoff hunt abates any. Because dudes, if Houston is eating your lunch, you’re not a playoff team.

Angels 8, Red Sox 3: A win, yes, but losing Garrett Richards, almost certainly for the season, is a huge, huge blow for the Angels. Josh Hamilton had three RBI. Right now it’d be better if he could throw 98 miles per hour, because the Angels are going to need that way more in the season’s final month and change.

 

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.