And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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source: Getty Images

Royals 2, Twins 1: Alex Gordon with the walkoff two-run homer. This one, apparently, was called by the bat boy. Here’s Yost’s telling of it:

“The bat boy who never says anything turns around and says, `Esky is going to get a hit and Gordo’s taking him in the fountain,” Yost said. “I said, `OK. Sounds like a pretty good plan.”

“Esky” for Escobar? It’s sad that the convention of lazy baseball nicknames is reaching yet another generation.

Giants 3, Rockies 0: MadBum — which is another lazy nicknaming convention but not as lazy as simply adding a “y” to the first syllable — was perfect into the eighth and finished with a one-hit shutout in which he struck out 13 dudes. He needed only 103 pitches to do it which, given the strikeout total, is really damn impressive. One hanging breaking ball that Justin Morneau hit for a double was all that stood between Bumgarner and perfection.

Angels 8, Marlins 2: The Angels are back alone atop the AL West and all of baseball thanks to yet another nice start from Matt Shoemaker, who allowed only two hits over seven shutout innings. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols both went 3 for 4.

Astros 4, Athletics 2: Chris Carter helped put the Angels in first too, and knocked the A’s out of this one, with a three-run homer in the eighth. Carter has homered in four of his past five games against his old team. He has 32 on the year.

Orioles 4, Rays 2: I’ve been complaining a lot about the pace of play lately, but here the guys in the game were too, following a 4-2, nine-inning game which lasted three hours and thirty-seven minutes. Here’s Buck Showalter:

“It was a mentally challenging game because it’s such a grind. A lot of time, a lot of deep counts, a lot of catcher visits.”

Here’s catcher Caleb Joseph:

“Coming off last night, we had such a great game and you want to kind of repeat it, but the pace of the game kind of slows your excitement down a little bit. You’ve got to stay into it, and our guys did a great job.”

If the manager of the winning team and the guy who drove in two for the winning team are talking about the pace of the game being a barrier to enjoying it, how are fans supposed to feel?

Padres 4, Brewers 1: Tyson Ross pitched well, but he also doubled and scored in the third and walked in the fifth. He’s now 4 for 10 with two walks in the month of August. Viva La National League.

Mariners 5, Rangers 0: Endy Chavez hit a two-run double, Robinson Cano socked a homer and James Paxton tossed six and two-thirds shutout innings. The Rangers didn’t get a runner past first base until the ninth inning.

Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 5: The Dodgers hung six on the Dbacks in the fourth inning, thanks in part to two calls — a play at the plate and a bunt single to first base — which were overturned on replay, allowing the rally to continue. Not that there was anything particularly controversial about it. It was really more about Trevor Cahill getting knocked around like crazy which was the problem.

Mets 3, Braves 2: Juan Lagares hit a two-run homer and had seven putouts in center field, one of which was a diving catch in the gap, robbing Alex Wood of a hit. Lagares is incredible out there.

Indians 8, White Sox 6: In the tenth, with a runner on second, Zach Walters was asked to bunt. He couldn’t get the bunt down, so he ended up swinging away. Which was pretty darn lucky considering he hit a two-run homer that ended up winning the game. Cleveland continues to hang around, 4.5 back in the wild card.

Cubs 3, Reds 0: Travis Wood had been in a horrible funk, but he snapped out of it against his former team, allowing two hits over six shutout innings. Big day for “against his former team” yesterday.

Tigers 5, Yankees 2: The Yankees winning streak ends at five. Rick Porcello picked up his fifteenth win of the season after eight solid frames. Jacoby Ellsbury had two homers in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 2: Ike Davis hit a a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth. Josh Harrison added a homer. Bad news, though: Andrew McCutchen left early after aggravating that rib injury that sent him to the DL earlier this month. It’s unclear if he’ll be out today.

Red Sox 11, Blue Jays 7: Just your standard seven-run 11th inning. Part of it was a Mike Napoli three-run homer which went approximately fifty gabillion miles. Allen Craig hit a two-run shot in the same inning. Dustin Pedroia drove in four on the night. Fifteen pitchers appeared in this four hour, thirty-three minute affair.

Phillies 4, Nationals 3: The Phillies have won five of six. And yet another Phillies player was mad at Ryne Sandberg for how he was used in the game. Cole Hamels this time, who ended up with the no-decision after being yanked in the eighth. Sandberg’s hook was a bit quick — Hamels had only thrown 84 pitches — but it’s notable that this stuff is happening even with the Phillies winning a lot lately.

The Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager

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Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend that the Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager. Part of that comes after team meetings between Snitker and top brass. Some of it, however, is likely attributable to player sentiment, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting this morning that Freddie Freeman and several Braves players have told the Braves front office that they want Snitker back.

Is it a good idea to bring Snitker back? Eh, I’m leaning no, with the caveat that it probably doesn’t make a huge difference in the short term.

The “no” is based mostly on the fact that Snitker has had a disturbing trend of preferring veterans over young players, as Bradley explains in detail here. For a brief moment this summer the Braves seemed surprisingly competitive. Not truly competitive if anyone was being honest, but they were hovering around .500 and were arguably in the wild card race. Around that time he made a number of questionable decisions that favored marginal and/or injured veterans over some young players who will be a part of the next truly competitive Braves team, likely messing with their confidence and possibly messing with their development.

These moves were not damaging, ultimately, to the 2017 Braves on the field — they were going to be under .500 regardless — but it was the sort of short-term thinking that a manager for a rebuilding team should not be employing. Part of the blame for this, by the way, can be put on the front office, who only gave Snitker a one-year contract when they made him the permanent manager last year, creating an incentive for him to win in 2017 rather than manage the club the way a guy who knows when the team will truly be competitive should manage it. Then again, if Snitker was so great a candidate in the front office’s mind, why did they only give him a one-year contract?

I suspect a lot of it has to do with loyalty. Snitker has been an admirable Braves company man for decades, and that was certainly worthy of respect by the club. That he got the gig was likewise due in part to the players liking him — the veteran players — and they now are weighing in with their support once again. At some point, however, loyalty and respect of veterans has to take a back seat to a determination of who is the best person to bring the team from rebuilding to competitiveness, and Snitker has not made the case why he is that man.

Earlier, of course, I said it probably doesn’t matter all that much if they do, in fact, bring Snitker back. I say this because he will, in all likelihood, be given a short leash again, probably in the form of a one-year extension. It would not surprise me at all if, in the extraordinarily likely event the Braves look to be outclassed in the division by the Nationals again in 2018, they made a managerial switch midseason, as they did in 2016. If that is, indeed, the plan, it seems like the front office is almost planning on losing again in 2018 and using the future firing of Snitker as a time-buying exercise. Not that I’m cynical or anything.

Either way, I don’t think Snitker is the right guy for the job. Seems, though, that he’ll get at least an offseason and a couple of months to prove me wrong.

Bruce Maxwell on anthem protest: “If it ends up driving me out of baseball, then so be it”

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For the second straight day, Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the national anthem before the A’s game against the Texas Rangers. Afterward, he said he did not care what the repercussions might be:

“If it ends up driving me out of baseball, then so be it. This is bigger than a monetary standpoint, this is bigger than the uniform I put on every day. This is about the people in this country and we all deserve to be treated equally. That’s the whole purpose of us taking a knee during the national anthem.”

And make no mistake, there will be repercussions of one kind or another. The immediate ones are pretty predictable: Maxwell says he has received threats since his first protest on Saturday night, including racial epithets and warnings “to watch [his] back.” These came via the Internet and Maxwell has brushed it off as the act of “keyboard warriors.”

The more interesting question will be whether there will be career repercussions. He has received support from the A’s, but even the supportive comments come with at least a hint of foreboding. Here’s his manager, Bob Melvin:

“It does take a lot of courage because you know that now the potential of the crosshairs are on you and for a guy who’s not as established, I’m sure, and I’m not speaking for him, but I’m sure there were some feelings for him that there was some risk. I do know that he felt better about it afterwards because there’s a lot of uncertainty when you take that type of step.”

I don’t feel like Melvin is referring to the threats exclusively, there, given the reference to Maxwell not being “as established.” That’s a phrase used exclusively to refer to a player’s standing within the game. As long as Melvin is the A’s manager and Maxwell plays for him, sure, it may very well be the case that only Maxwell’s ability as a player will impact his future. But Melvin seems to be acknowledging here — correctly — that this act of non-conformity on Maxwell’s part could be career limiting. Heck, his teammate, Mark Canha, voices concern over the fact that he merely put his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder in support. He’s worried that that might be seen as bad for him.

And if you don’t read that into Melvin or Canha’s words, fine. Because it’s very clear based on the words of others around the league that Maxwell’s sort of protest might be considered . . . problematic. From the story that Ashley linked yesterday, let’s focus again on the words of Pirates GM Neal Huntington:

“We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Does that sound like a man who is going to judge a player based solely on his baseball contributions? Heck no it doesn’t. How about if Maxwell lands on the Dodgers?

Make no mistake: Matthews is taking a risk with his protest. There are a number of teams — likely more than will admit it publicly — who will hold this against him as they evaluate him as a player.

You can react to this in a couple of ways, I figure. You could nod your head like a sage, adopt the tone of some inside-baseball guy and say “Well, of course! There are consequences for one’s behavior and only those who are naive don’t believe that.” If you do, of course, you’re ignoring the fact that Maxwell has already acknowledged that himself in the quote that appears in the very headline of this story.

Another option: acknowledge his bravery. Acknowledge that he knows damn well that, especially in baseball, that this kind of thing is far more likely to harm his career than help it. If you acknowledge that, you have no choice but to then ask why Maxwell nonetheless continues to protest. Why this is so important to him despite the risks.

That’s when your reacting and your second-guessing should stop and your listening should begin.