And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

74 Comments

Pirates 6, Cardinals 5: For the second straight day the Pirates win in extra innings in walkoff fashion. On Saturday it was Andrew McCutchen with a homer, last night it was Gregory Polanco with an RBI single. Both times the Cards took a lead in extras only to see the Buccos claw back. Pittsburgh took three of four from St. Louis in this series and pulled to within two and a half. It’s only the All-Star break and there’s a lot of baseball to be played, but this is the kind of series on which a team that finishes the season triumphant looks back and says “yeah, that’s when we knew something special was happening.”

Athletics 2, Indians 0: Sonny Gray was absolutely fan-frickin’-tastic, with a two-hit complete game shutout. It wasn’t a Maddux — he needed 107 pitches — but it was pretty close. He has ten wins and a 2.04 ERA heading into the break and has been, by far, the brightest spot in an otherwise dim first half for Oakland.

Mets 5, Diamondbacks 3: When the Mets signed Nieuwenhuis recently, the move was widely mocked. Not so much for what Nieuwenhuis is, but for what he was not: a game-changing bat the sort of which the Mets sorely need. There was nothing mock-worthy about his bat here, however, as all he did was hit three homers and drive in four. The Mets head into the break winners of six of seven and, for all of the up-and-down drama of their season so far and for all of the complaining about the front office people have done, they stand only two games back of the Nationals.

Marlins 8, Reds 1: I listened to this game on WLW while driving into Cincinnati for the All-Star festivities. Jeff Brantley had the call. It’s saying something that listening to Jeff Brantley describe the carnage that has become the Reds’ season in his smooth drawl is best thing about this team in 2015. As it was, Johnny Cueto probably deserved better — his defense let him down a few times — but given credit to Marlins’ first baseman Justin Bour for reaching up and out of the zone in consecutive at bats to drive some balls he or no one else had any business driving with authority. Dan Haren, meanwhile, allowed one run over six innings and wouldn’t be the worst pickup for a team who doesn’t play in a homer-friendly park and could use a starter.

Rays 4, Astros 3: The Rays sweep the Astros, who dropped their sixth in a row heading into the break and find themselves out of first place for the first time since April 18. Matt Moore, making his third start since coming back from Tommy John surgery, allowed three runs and five hits over five innings and notched his first victory since Sept. 29, 2013.

Yankees 8, Red Sox 6: Rob Refsnyder, playing his second big league game, had two hits, including a two-run homer. The Yankees took two of three from the Red Sox and are now three and a half up in the East. It’s their biggest lead in a tight division since they had a four game margin back on May 11.

Nationals 3, Orioles 2: Here’s something that sucks: two of the best pitchers in the game — Sonny Gray and Max Scherzer — pitched yesterday and thus won’t be available to pitch in the All-Star Game. Which, well, maybe doesn’t suck THAT much given that these games matter and the All-Star game doesn’t. Still. Scherzer allowed two runs in eight and two-thirds, winning his tenth and leaving his first half ERA at 2.11.

Royals 11, Blue Jays 10: The Royals had a 7-0 lead after five, completely blew it in the sixth by giving up an eight-spot to Toronto, but then scored three more in the bottom of the sixth and then held the hell on. Not a game for pitching enthusiasts. Or defense enthusiasts. Or comfortable weather enthusiasts, as it was hot and gross. Basically everything that would make me miserable at a baseball game went down here.

Twins 7, Tigers 1: Kyle Gibson won his fourth straight, allowing one run — unearned — in seven innings. Miguel Sano hit a two-run homer. The Twins are four and a half back at 44-40. The Tigers are nine back at .500. With old fading stars on one side and young rising stars on the other, this feels like a matchup between the future and the past.

Cubs 3, White Sox 1: Jake Arrieta went the distance and allowed only one run. He also [altogether now] helped his own cause with a homer as the Cubs salvage one in their series against their crosstown rivals.

Padres 2, Rangers 1: Tyson Ross outdueled Yovani Gallardo, tossing six and two-thirds of shutout ball. Ross hasn’t allowed a homer in 86 and two-thirds innings.

Giants 4, Phillies 2: The Giants sweep the Phillies. What’s the right adjective to use here for Philly? “Lowly?” I feel like we’re well past lowly right now, but all of the other adjectives that spring to mind are not really suitable for a family baseball blog like Hardball Talk Dot Com.

Angels 10, Mariners 3: With the Houston skid and their very own surge, the Angels claim first place heading into the break. They’ve won 11 of 14. Here Chris Iannetta hit a two-run home run and David Freese hit a two-run double in the Angels’ six-run sixth inning.

Dodgers 4, Brewers 3: Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer as the Dodgers came from behind late. A lot of pitching injuries and a lot of ups and downs, but the Dodgers have 51 wins and lead the West by four and a half. I’m sure they’ll take it.

Rockies 11, Braves 3: The Rockies sweep the Braves behind a Troy Tulowitzki homer and a 3-for-4, four-RBI day from Charlie Blackmon. A seventeen hit attack against the Bravos, with ten of them — and seven runs — coming off of Alex Wood. Wood threw two pitches on Thursday in that game that had the weird rain delay. After what happened yesterday, he was probably praying for more rain.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

Getty Images
56 Comments

Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

Getty Images
2 Comments

This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.