Getty Images

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

17 Comments

Obviously the big story last night was Reds left fielder Scooter Gennett hitting four homers and driving in ten runs as the Reds romped over the Cardinals. 13-1. That was pretty random, eh? Gennett, coming in to last night only had 38 homers in his entire four year career, and then he uncorks that crazy night. I love how random baseball can be sometimes.

My personal preference is to just let weirdness be weirdness when it comes to baseball oddities like that. You can’t predict them so you probably should just let it all pleasantly wash over you rather than StatCast it and analyze it to death. We’re all gonna remember Scooter Freakin’ Gennett as a guy who hit four homers in a game, much like the way we remember Mark Whiten and a couple of others for that. Barring an MVP Award or something, this will be his legacy and it’s a damn fine one to have, so who cares what the launch angle was, you know?

Of course, we are in the baseball content business here, so we’ll take some extra looks at the feat. Here is Bill’s look at the significance of it all, statistically speaking, from last night. You can see all four of the homers here:

 

My final take on it: last night, just after Gennett hit his fourth homer, I was goofing around on Twitter with a couple of friends, imagining how such a rare and spectacular feat might be described by the player after the game. We joked that they’d still use the same cliches. Like this:

Here’s what Gennett actually said:

Baseball: it’s always there for us, never changing in an increasingly chaotic and ever-changing world. God bless ballplayers, everywhere. God bless their executed pitches, good pitches to hit and their lack of a desire to press and do too much out there, even when they do superhuman things.

Here are the scores, here are the highlights:

Reds 13, Cardinals 1: Lost in Gennett’s night is the fact that Reds starter Tim Adleman shut the Cards down, allowing only one run over seven innings and that Adam Wainwright, who gave up only one homer, the grand slam, to Gennett, got shelled for nine runs overall in less than four innings. Certainly not a night the Cardinals are gonna want to think about for long.

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4: The Red Sox and Yankees play a game that can go right up there with their classic rivalry games from 15 years ago. Not because the game was fantastic, but because it took over three and a half hours for them to play it despite there being only 15 hits between the two teams. Mitch MorelandHanley Ramirez and Andrew Benintendi all hit homers off of Masahiro Tanaka, who continues to struggle mightily and is probably due for a DL stint with one of those phantom injuries like the one Bartolo Colon was given yesterday. Craig Kimbrel closed the game out by striking out five batters in an inning and a third thanks to one of them reaching on a wild pitch. Kimbrel has been mind-bogglingly good lately. He’s retired 80 batters on the year. Fifty-three of those 80 were retired via strikeout. He’s on a pace to strike out 151 guys. Last year that would’ve put him in 25th place in the American League in strikeouts. This from a guy who pitches one inning a night. Mercy.

Orioles 6, Pirates 5: The Pirates led late but Jonathan Schoop tied it in the ninth with his second homer of the game — we call that a half-Scooter in the biz — and Mark Trumbo singled home a run in the 10th to complete the comeback.

Angels 5, Tigers 3: The Angels had a 4-0 lead mid-game, the Tigers crept back in and tried to rally in the ninth but Bud Norris stopped the bleeding. But just barely. The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs and Norris fell behind 3-0 to Alex Avila. He managed to strike Avila out though, with Avila getting caught looking at strike three. Phew. Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron homered for the Angels.

White Sox 4, Rays 2Avisail Garcia, Yolmer Sanchez and Todd Frazier homered for the White Sox (a collective .75Gennett, per StatCast or whatever) as they snap a five-game losing streak. Jose Quintana was solid after tossing complete stink bombs in his previous two outings.

Phillies 3, Braves 1: Aaron Nola allowed one run on five hits over eight innings. Odubel Herrera doubled in the go-ahead run in the sixth and then came around to score on a balk later in the inning. Someone in the Spanish-speaking press should ask Mike Schmidt for his opinions on that and then disparage him if he answers in English.

Brewers 5, Giants 2: Chase Anderson pitched seven and two-thirds shutout innings and [all together now] helped is own cause by doubling in a run in the third. Matt Cain gave up five runs on ten hits in five innings. After a solid April that had a lot of people talking about his comeback, Cain has seen his ERA climb over two and a half runs in seven starts.

Rangers 10, Mets 8: Rangers pitchers gave up five homers — and Jay Bruce almost hit another one, only to have it robbed by Jared Hoying — to the Mets but their hitters bailed ’em out by rattling off ten runs on 16 hits. Joey Gallo‘s 17th homer on the year came in the third inning, making it 5-4 Texas. There was a lot more scoring to come, but that put the Rangers up for good in this one.

Cubs 10, Marlins 2: Jake Arrieta pitched two-hit ball into the seventh and Anthony Rizzo drove in four as the Cubs win their fifth in a row. That comes on the heels of six straight losses. Streaky.

Royals 9, Astros 7: Speaking of streaks, the Astros’ 11-game run is now over thanks to Mike Moustakas‘ two-run shot with two outs in the ninth to help Kansas City rally back from a six-run deficit. On any other morning we slap Moustakas’ face up at the top of this post.

Rockies 11, Indians 3: Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela hit a three-run double in the second inning and was steady into the seventh inning as the Rockies romped. Mark Reynolds hit two homers and drove in five.

Diamondbacks 10, Padres 2: Robbie Ray continues his torrid run, striking out 11 Padres batters and allowing just one run while pitching into the seventh. Jake Lamb drove in four and Chris Owings knocked in three.

Athletics 4, Blue Jays 1: Jesse Hahn was activated from the DL and came in to allow only an unearned run in six innings. Khris Davis knocked in two and Ryon Healy hit an RBI.

Mariners 12, Twins 3Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager each hit three-run homers as the M’s stay hot, winning their eighth game in nine tries. All that offense made up for a mediocre James Paxton start.

Nationals 2, Dodgers 1: Death taxes and Max Scherzer striking out a bunch of dudes. Here he allowed only an unearned run in seven innings and struck out 14 Dodgers batters. His K-totals in his last three starts: 14, 11 and 13. He’s started 12 games this year. He’s struck out ten or more guys in half of them.

Pete Mackanin doesn’t know if he’ll be back as Phillies manager next year

Getty Images
1 Comment

Back in May the Phillies gave Pete Mackanin a contract extension covering the remainder of 2017, all of 2018 and created a team option for 2019. Yesterday, however, Mackanin said he had no idea if the Phillies were going to bring him back as manager next season:

“I assume I’ll be here, but you never know. You never know what they’re going to do. So you just keep moving on. I just take it a day at a time and manage the way I think I should manage and handle players the way I think I should handle them. That’s all I can do. If it’s not good enough then … fine. I hope it’s good enough. I hope he thinks it’s good enough.”

Maybe that’s just cautious talk, though, as there doesn’t seem to be any signals coming from the Phillies front office that Mackanin is in trouble. If anything things have looked up in the second half of the season with the callups of Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams each of whom have shown that they belong in the bigs. The team is 33-37 since the All-Star break and is certainly a better team now than the one Mackanin started with in April. And it’s not his fault that they don’t have any pitching.

I suspect Mackanin will be back next year, but Mackanin has been around the block enough times to know that nothing is guaranteed for a big league manager. Even one under contract.

How not to enjoy what Aaron Judge is doing

Getty Images
25 Comments

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has been one of the biggest and best stories in all of baseball this year. While he held promise entering his rookie season, most experts figured he’d provide some low-average, low-OBP power. That he’d be a guy who, based on his size, could send a pitcher’s mistake 500 feet in the wrong direction, but who would probably be shown to have big holes in his swing once he’d been around the league a little bit.

Judge defied expectations, however, and has put together an amazing rookie season. He broke the rookie home run record yesterday with his 50th blast. He still strikes out a lot but so does everyone. He nonetheless has hit for a great average and has gotten on base at a fantastic clip. He has also showed some uncommon resilience, overcoming a lengthy slump in July and August and returning to the dominant form he showed in the first half while helping a Yankees team not many figured to be a strong contender into the playoffs. Such a great story!

Sadly, however, this sentiment, which appeared from a commenter on my Facebook page yesterday, has become increasingly common:

I’ve seen it in a lot of comments sections and message boards around the Internet too, including our own comment section. From yesterday:

This is not exactly the same thing we’ve seen in the past with other breakout home run hitters such as Jose Bautista a few years back. This is not an accusation that Judge is taking drugs or anything. It’s more of a preemptive and defensive diminishment of excitement. And I find it rather sad.

Yes, I understand that past PED users have made fans wonder whether the players they watch are using something to get an extra edge, but it really does not need to be this way. We’ve had drug testing in baseball for over a decade and, while no drug testing regime is perfect, it just seems bizarre, several years after Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa did their thing — and a few years after Alex Rodriguez and others were caught and disciplined for trying to do more — to assume, out of hand, that great baseball performances are the product of undetected cheating. Yes, it’s possible, but such assumptions should not be the default stance, only to be disproved (somehow) at a later date.

The same goes for the juiced baseball, right? Yes, there is strong evidence that the baseball was changed a couple of years back leading to a home run spike, but aren’t all players using the same baseball? It’s also worth remembering that the season Mark McGwire hit 49 homers — 1987 — is strongly suspected of being a juiced ball year as well. It’s a concern that may be based in fact, but it’s a large concern over a fact thrown out with little regard for context to sketch out a threat that is either remote or without consequence.

The point here is not to argue that Aaron Judge is undeniably clean or that the baseball isn’t different. The former is unknown and the latter is likely false. The point is that it’s super sad and self-defeating to qualify every amazing feat you see with preemptive concern about such things. Years and years of sports writers writing McCarthy-esque “Yes, but is he clean?” articles does not require you, as a fan, to do the same. You can enjoy a cool thing in the moment. If it’s found out later to have been tainted, fine, we have a lot of practice in contextualizing such things and we’ll do so pretty quickly, but what’s the harm in going with it in real time?

I suspect the answer to that is rooted in some desire not to look like a sucker or something. Not to find oneself like many did, in the mid-2000s, being told by sportswriters and politicians that they were dupes for enjoying Sosa and McGwire in 1998. But that’s idiotic, in my view. I enjoyed 1998 and all of the baseball I saw on either side of it, as did most baseball fans. When the PEDs stuff exploded in the 2000s I reassessed it somewhat as far as the magnitude of the accomplishments compared to other eras in history, but it didn’t mean I enjoyed what I had seen any less.

Likewise, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of watching Aaron Judge this year. Why can’t everyone? Why is it so hard? Why have we been conditioned to be skeptical of something that is supposed to be entertaining? When your personal stakes are low like they are with respect to any sporting event or form of entertainment, it’s OK to enjoy things while they’re enjoyable and worry about them being problematic if and when they ever become so. And hey, they may not!

I promise you: if Aaron Judge walks into the postseason awards banquet this winter carrying a briefcase that unexpectedly opens and 200 syringes full of nandrolone fall out, no one is going to say you were dumb for cheering for him yesterday. It will really be OK.