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And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Clayton Kershaw did Clayton Kershaw things, the Blue Jays were awarded a strange home run and Josh Harrison hit a walk-off home run during Saturday’s slate. Here are the rest of the day’s scores and highlights:

Red Sox 11, Twins 1: Some days, it’s difficult to identify the tipping point that pushes a team toward a loss. Other days, it’s all too easy. Saturday’s loss hinged on a slippery ground ball in the second inning, which missed Jorge Polanco’s glove for the third out and allowed Josh Rutledge to reach on a force attempt. That opened the floodgates for the Red Sox’ offense, which stormed back from a two-out, zero-baserunner situation to an eight-run onslaught, paving the way for their 10-run lead and the win.

Rays 6, Blue Jays 1: The Blue Jays’ 20th loss of the season was largely unremarkable, except for the one play that has yet to receive an official ruling:

According to MLB.com’s Jeff Odom, the play was ruled an inside-the-park home run after replay review, but an official determination has yet to be made by the Elias Sports Bureau, who will take a second look at the home run on Monday.

Indians 3, Royals 1: Of all the ways to break out of a slump, this is one of the best. Carlos Santana snapped an 0-for-14 run with a 412-foot, game-winning solo shot in the ninth inning, followed by a back-to-back blast from Francisco Lindor for the insurance run:

Orioles 6, White Sox 5: The Orioles have had a tough break lately, with Chris Tillman, Wade Miley and Zach Britton all sidelined with various health issues (not to mention Kevin Gausman’s ejection on Thursday). Luckily, lack of rotation depth didn’t matter on Saturday, when Dylan Bundy locked in his fifth win of the year with three runs, six hits and three strikeouts in six innings. Baltimore’s lineup took care of the rest, putting up a cushy five-run lead on a smattering of hits that included home runs from Manny Machado and Trey Mancini and a bases-loaded balk, courtesy of Chicago starter Dylan Covey.

Pirates 2, Brewers 1 (10 innings): If things had gone a different way in the 10th inning, we’d be talking about John Jaso‘s gaffes on the basepaths, about the seven baserunners stranded by the Pirates in the first nine innings, about Gerrit Cole‘s rundown in the sixth inning, squandering a perfectly good bases-loaded opportunity to score the go-ahead run. Instead, the narrative shifted directions in the 10th. Gift Ngoepe led off with a base hit, advancing to second base on a wild pitch and scoring the walk-off run on an RBI single off the bat of Josh Harrison. Simple, right?

Nationals 6, Phillies 2: Dusty Baker thinks that Ryan Zimmerman is beginning to look a lot like Barry Bonds these days. No doubt the comparison comes on the heels of Zimmerman’s hot start to the season. The slugger is batting an unsustainable .435/.475/.907 in 118 PA, including a two-run homer (his 13th of the year) and RBI double during Saturday’s decisive 6-2 win in Philadelphia.

Whether or not that comparison has merit is debatable, but let’s pull the numbers just for fun. Bonds slashed .288/.408/.551 in his first 12 seasons, amassing 374 home runs and a staggering 90.7 fWAR with the Pirates and Giants. Zimmerman, by comparison, carried a .278/.343/.467 batting line, 215 homers and cumulative 35.6 fWAR through his 12th season with the Nationals in 2016 — impressive totals, but not quite the elite marks set by Bonds in years past. Still, there’s no doubt the Nationals’ infielder is onto something special this year, provided he can sustain some of the success he’s already found.

Mets 11, Marlins 3: Mets’ general manager Sandy Alderson had just stepped into the broadcast booth to discuss the club’s latest rash of injuries when Asdrubal Cabrera jammed his mitt into the ground, sustaining a left thumb injury that forced his early exit in the third inning. Thankfully, the Mets avoided further setbacks during the remainder of the game, exploiting veteran right-handers Odrisamer Despaigne and Dustin McGowan for an 11-run spread to bring them within seven games of catching the division-leading Nationals.

Reds 14, Giants 2: “Everybody should be upset about what’s going on,” Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy told reporters after the Giants dropped their second double-digit loss of the week. The team lost their series opener by a score of 13-2 on Friday, and their luck was even worse during a 14-2 beatdown on Saturday evening. Starter Ty Blach pitched his way out of the game after three innings, issuing 11 hits, 10 runs and failing to strike out a single batter on 75 pitches.

The Reds, meanwhile, hit their stride in the third inning, battering the strike zone with six runs and scoring on nearly every kind of play imaginable, from an RBI wild pitch to Patrick Kivlehan‘s first home run of the year. Assuming Bochy’s sentiments are shared by the rest of the team, the kind of loss might be enough to light a fire under the Giants during their series finale on Sunday. Given their last-place status in the NL West, though, any drastic turnaround seems unlikely at this point.

Yankees 11, Cubs 6: Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon would like to see his starting rotation give the bullpen a break, he told reporters prior to Saturday’s loss. The fifth-best bullpen in the National League has now become one of the most overworked, and it comes as little surprise that Cubs’ starters are averaging fewer than six innings per outing.

Maddon’s complaint preceded yet another snafu when starter Brett Anderson was forced out of Saturday’s appearance after issuing just 23 pitches, citing lower back tightness and leaving Felix Pena, Rob Zastryzny and Miguel Montero to cover the remaining 8 2/3 innings. The task proved too arduous for the ‘pen, who followed Anderson’s five-run inning with another six runs on a Didi Gregorius fielding error and two home runs from Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks.

Rockies 9, Diamondbacks 1: The worst of Tyler Anderson‘s pitching woes appear to be behind him, at least for the time being. The Diamondbacks’ southpaw tossed the first quality start of his sophomore season, striking out 10 of 24 batters and allowing just six hits and one run over six innings.

Dodgers 10, Padres 2: If you showed up to Saturday’s game expecting a Clayton Kershaw gem, five-run ninth inning and Cody Bellinger‘s first career grand slam, well, you were in luck. Kershaw lasted 7 1/3 innings on five hits, a run and nine strikeouts, backed in part by Bellinger’s mammoth slam in the ninth.

The only thing missing from an otherwise-perfect night? The dulcet tones of one Vin Scully.

Athletics 6, Tigers 5: It only took one pitch to unravel the hard work Detroit has put into their bullpen this month. They entered Saturday’s loss with a scoreless streak of 14 1/3 innings, which promptly ended when Francisco Rodriguez served up a first-pitch fastball to Adam Rosales, who took it for a walk-off base hit:

The hit returned the Tigers’ bullpen to the bottom of the league, where they rank 27th among major league teams with an -0.4 fWAR and league-worst 5.87 ERA.

Angels 2, Astros 1: The Angels took the field for their second game without Mike Trout, and… didn’t look too bad, to be perfectly honest. While the reigning MVP was sidelined with another case of hamstring tightness, the rest of Anaheim’s lineup coasted on an eight-inning effort from JC Ramirez, returning in the ninth inning to knock in the game-winning single:

Mariners 8, Rangers 2: It only takes one inning to win a game, particularly if that inning comes with a side of seven runs. The Mariners’ bats erupted in the seventh inning, when they collectively solved the Rangers’ bullpen with five hits, a sac fly and a run-scoring hit by pitch. Seattle starter Chase De Jong, meanwhile, assuaged some of the Mariners’ concerns about the state of their rotation with his first quality start of the year, delivering three strikeouts, four hits and a run over six innings.

Alan Trammell’s Hall of Fame election validates a child’s baseball memories

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla — My great uncle Harry was a boat salesman in Detroit. He had some Tigers front office types as clients so he got a lot of free tickets to Tigers games. and he’d use them to take my brother and me to Tiger Stadium several times a year. We were always right behind home plate.

My parents tell me that I went to my first game in Tiger Stadium on the Fourth of July, 1978. I was too young to remember a thing about that one. The first one I do remember was June 17, 1979. A few years ago I tracked down the box score for that game on Baseball-Reference.com to get all of the details, but before I knew all of the specifics I remembered the important details: it was a day game against the California Angels and Alan Trammell hit a home run. He instantly became my favorite player. I was not quite six years old.

Like any other kid who has a favorite player, I obsessed over him. I collected every one of his baseball cards. I looked for his name in every box score. When I played Little League I begged the coach to let me play shortstop even though I had no business playing shortstop (the coach did let me wear number 3 at least). I made sure that, when a Tigers game was on TV, no one turned it off until Trammell had come to bat at least once.

On one occasion I even sort of stalked him.

My grandparents lived in Detroit and rumor had it that Trammell rented a house just down the street from them during the season. Once, when we were visiting my grandmother, my brother and I walked to the house and knocked on the door. A woman in her 20s answered it. We presumed it to be his wife or girlfriend. We asked if Alan Trammell was there. She said no and shut the door on us. At the time we assumed that, darn our luck, he had already left to go to the ballpark that day. In hindsight I realized that it probably wasn’t his house, and that the woman, while taciturn to the point of being misleading, was technically telling the truth. The point here is that back then I just liked to assume that Alan Trammell lived two doors down from my grandparents. A kid will believe a lot about his hero ballplayer in order to be closer to him.

My thing for Trammell continued for a good decade or so. By the end of that decade it seemed plain to me that was the greatest shortstop in the history of baseball and anyone else who didn’t recognize that was simply irrational. With nearly 40 years of hindsight, I now know that Trammell wasn’t the greatest shortstop in baseball history. Probably. He was damn good, though.

After I moved away from Michigan and Trammell’s career began to wind down, Greg Maddux became my favorite player. It was a different thing with him — I was too old for a baseball player to be my hero, exactly — but it’s the case that I thought less about Trammell than I had in the 80s. That probably would’ve happened naturally, but there were other factors which worked to make me think of Trammell less than I did when I was younger.

It’s easy to get jaded if you spend enough time writing about baseball. I’ve never stopped loving or enjoying the game, but if you focus most of your life on it, you end up seeing so many amazing things that you forget some of the other amazing stuff you’ve seen. In my case, I’ve pushed out a lot of the stuff I enjoyed when I was a kid. I didn’t do it on purpose. It just happened. There is only so much baseball you can hold in your head at once and I have a lot of baseball in my head.

Part of me pushing Trammell out of my head was defensive, though. He first made the Hall of Fame ballot in 2002. He didn’t get even 20% of the vote until his ninth year. He never got as much as 37% of the vote. It pained me to see the Hall of Fame voters — many of whom would eventually become my friends and colleagues — fail to recognize him year after year. I get why that happened. Trammell was a bit of an odd duck for his era. After decades of being used to heavy leather, light bat shortstops, Hall of Fame voters weren’t ready for a guy at that position who could play gold glove defense, hit for both average and power and take an occasional walk. At the very least they weren’t ready to process several of them at once. Cal Ripken and Robin Yount, understandably, filled up that space in their heads while Ozzie Smith impressed upon them that the traditional shortstop archetype remained strong. There just wasn’t room for Tram their minds.

But even if his being overlooked was somewhat understandable, it was still painful. It seemed like a rebuke of my childhood memories. I’m not a sentimental guy. I don’t believe in that whole fathers-and-sons-passing-baseball-down-from-generation-to-generation thing. But I did wonder why I’d bother taking my kids to the Hall of Fame if I could not go into the plaque room and see my Hall of Fame-worthy boyhood idol. Why should I care about the Hall of Fame if, as far as it was concerned, Alan Trammell was an invisible man? Alan Trammell happened. I saw it. I saw him do all of those great things and, because of the manner in which baseball history is chronicled and remembered, he was forgotten in some important way. It pissed me off.

I never thought Trammell would make the Hall of Fame. Not for a moment. I knew a couple of years in that the BBWAA wouldn’t vote him in and I had no confidence, until the moment I heard the news of his election last night, that the Veteran’s Committee would ever give him his due. But they did.

It was a shock and a surprise. When I heard he made it I stopped what I was doing and just sat back dumbfounded. Happy. Flooded with memories of watching Trammell play when I was a kid and he was my favorite player. Happy that, after years and years of almost wondering if I was the only person alive who watched him play, my childhood memories were validated. Validated in a way that I never thought was really necessary but, now that it has happened, makes me feel better than I did before. Better about baseball. Better about baseball history. Better about the memories I had that, for a while, I began to even question since no one else seemed to remember Trammell like I did.

This old man’s memories of Alan Trammell aren’t all that important. Baseball memories of old men have had more than their fair share of validation over the years to the point where baseball history is almost distorted as a result. But what of the baseball memories of younger generations?

The Baseball Hall of Fame and its voters have seen fit to shun the baseball greats of the 1990s and 2000s. A host of them — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez and others — are now and likely forever will be kept out of the Hall of Fame. We certainly have not forgotten those players, but we’re not honoring them.

The Hall and its voters will eagerly explain to you why that is. It’s about ethics and morality and authenticity and all of that, they say. I’m not sure, however, why that would matter to a person who, when they were six-year-old, was amazed by their feats and exploits. I’m not sure how an entire generation of people who became baseball fans as a result of those players should be made to feel that their memories are somehow not worth memorializing. Why they should be expected to go to the Hall of Fame with their children if they can’t walk into the plaque room and say “there’s the greatest player I ever saw.”

Until last night I discounted that feeling. I don’t think I’ll discount it anymore.