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And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Pirates 14, Cubs 3: The Pirates scored ten runs off of Jon Lester in the first inning. Only four were earned but that’s just by virtue of one error that itself didn’t cause a run to score. They hit Lester hard — six hits, two of which were homers and one of which was a double — and walked three times. People keep wondering why the Cubs are struggling this year. There are a lot of reasons for it, including a lot of their hitters falling back from last year. But I think we all overlooked how unlikely it was to expect some of their veteran starters to repeat the years they had in 2016.

Dodgers 5, Royals 2: Clayton Kershaw, man. Complete game, two runs, 13 strikeouts no walks. Justin Turner hit two homers. The Dodgers enter the break with 60 61 wins and a 7.5 game lead in the West — their biggest of the season — and a +163 run differential. Most teams love the All-Star break. The Dodgers have to wonder if they can somehow just keep playing. And it may get even worse for the NL foes. For now the Dodgers have . . . The Rally Granny:

They should have a bobblehead night for her soon. Or at least a bobblesomething night.

Brewers 5, Yankees 3Travis Shaw hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Stephen Vogt hit a solo homer in the second. From the AP Gamer:

The Milwaukee Brewers have scored 81 runs in the first inning this season, more than any team in baseball. That’s not exactly a fluke. In fact, it’s by design . . . “A lot of starters settle in after the first inning and we’ve kind of taken that same approach with every pitcher,” Shaw said. “Try to jump on them early and grab the momentum and then work on it after that. We’ve been a really good first-inning team.”

Shaw shouldn’t say that out loud. If other teams hear him they may try to steal the Brewers’ “score a lot of runs early” strategy. Because before now no one has thought to try to do that.

Astros 19, Blue Jays 1:

Carlos Correa homered twice and drove in five. Jose Altuve got three hits for the fifth straight game. The Astros become the fifth team to notch 60 wins by the All-Star break, joining the 1998 Yankees, 2001 Mariners, 2003 Braves and this year’s Dodgers.

Rays 5, Red Sox 3Brad Miller hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth as the Rays take three of four from the Red Sox. The Rays are four over .500 and only three and a half back of the Sox.

Nationals 10, Braves 5: Nats starter Joe Ross left after just three and a third due to some triceps soreness but the Nats’ pen picked him up. Matt Wieters drove in three and Anthony Rendon drove in two and reached base five times. Freddie Freeman went 2-for-4 with three driven in in a losing cause. He’s 10-for-26 with two homers, three doubles and eight RBI in six games since coming off of a two-month DL stint. Dude is a machine.

Phillies 7, Padres 1: Six homers for the Phillies, two from Freddy Galvis. Nick Williams, Cameron RuppOdubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr went deep as well. Jerad Eickhoff struck out eight in five innings. Philly snapped a five-game losing streak.

Orioles 11, Twins 5: Adam Jones hit two homers and drove in five. Ruben Tejada and Seth Smith each had three hits. The win aside, the O’s could use the All-Star break.

Cardinals 6, Mets 0: Lance Lynn tossed seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and Trevor Rosenthal and John Brebbia .  finished off the shutout. Tommy Pham, Paul DeJong and Luke Voit all went deep.

Angels 3, Rangers 0: JC Ramirez tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off. That made the Angels one reliever less-efficient than the Cardinals I guess. Albert Pujols homered, Andrelton Simmons doubled in a run and Juan Graterol hit a sac fly. Ramirez after the game, when asked about what he plans to do during the All-Star break:

“I’m going to Vegas for a couple of days. I need my mind to get away from baseball.”

I’d read the hell out of a story about what non-All Stars do during the break. They’d have to be honest, though.

Rockies 10, White Sox 0Kyle Freeland flirted with a no-no, losing it with one out in the ninth. He struck out nine and walked only three. Shortstop Pat Valaika had his back with five driven in thanks in part to a three-run homer.

Mariners 4, Athletics 0: Yet another shutout. Here Felix Hernandez looked King-like again, allowing only two hits over six innings and striking out eight in his best start of the season. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run shot. He leads the AL in RBI with 70, tied for the MLB lead with Nolan Arenado and Macell Ozuna.

Reds 2, Diamondbacks 1: Homer Bailey was shelled in his first two games back from the DL, allowing fourteen runs in four and two-thirds. In his last two: two runs in twelve and two-thirds. Here he allowed one and worked around four walks and seven hits. Joey Votto singled in a run, Scott Schebler doubled in one. The Dbacks enter the break having lost five of six.

Marlins 10, Giants 8: Giancarlo Stanton is ready for the Home Run Derby. He homered twice here, but it was A.J. Ellis‘ tie-breaking two-run home run in the 11th which loomed the largest for Miami. Not that Stanton was chopped liver: he scored four times and walked twice. He was also hit by a pitch. They needed it all as Miami blew a 7-3 lead in the seventh before winning in extras.

Tigers 5, Indians 3: First time I’ve watched Sunday Night Baseball in a few weeks. David Ross was in the booth which gave him and the other two guys an excuse to talk more about David Ross than the Indians and Tigers playing in front of them. Which is quite a trick given that the game lasted almost four dang hours. Corey Kluber was alright but inefficient, so he was out after five and the bullpen didn’t have his back. Michael Fulmer was more effective, allowing two earned runs over six innings. But again, that just distracted from us all thinking about David Ross’ career, the 2016 World Series, Dancing with the Stars and all of that. What a time to be alive.

Derek Jeter: no longer the media’s darling

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There was a time, not too long ago, where the baseball press practically gave Derek Jeter awards for providing them no information whatsoever. As a player, he turned not answering questions into an art form. To the point where, eventually, the press just stopped asking him substantive questions almost entirely.

Unlike a lot of players who shut out the media, Jeter did it rather politely, so he did not get that passive aggressive treatment — or, occasionally, the aggressive-aggressive treatment — the press often gives uncommunicative players. To the contrary. He was positively lauded for his lack of communication. Lionized, even.

Take this column from Jeff Peralman at CNN.com from 2014, under the headline “Derek Jeter: Baseball’s Humble Hero”:

Throughout the first 18 seasons of his career, Jeter has often been labeled “dull” by the media. His answers to questions are unimaginative and full of cliché baseball nothingness blather. In hindsight, however, such lameness is almost to be admired. We live in an era where too many athletes feel as if they need to draw attention to themselves — for confidence, for commercials. If you’re not tweeting trash talk, you’re texting trash talk. Or making bold promises. Or demanding money or respect . . . he’s a guy who merely wanted to be a guy.

How about this from the New York Times around the time of his retirement:

Jeter’s ability to maintain a posture of sustained inscrutability — or, if you must, dignified comportment — has extended especially to the spoken word . . . he has played his best defense in front of his locker: catching every controversial question thrown to him and tossing it aside as if it were a scuffed ball unsuitable for play.

In a major league career that dates to the Clinton administration’s first term — he is the only Yankees shortstop a generation of fans has known — inquiring reporters have gathered around Jeter in the clubhouse thousands of times. He has maintained eye contact, answered nearly every question posed to him — and said nothing. This is not a complaint, but rather an expression of awe; of admiration, even. His batting average and fielding percentage aside, this kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., entered the New York meat grinder two decades ago and came out the other end looking as sharp as Joe DiMaggio’s suit.

This opinion of Jeter was pervasive throughout his career, but especially pronounced at its end of it. Jeter was deified by the press for saying nothing to the press. Praised for making the media’s job harder by the media itself. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Times, however, have changed.

Some minor grumbling about Jeter’s non-answers to media questions began soon after he took over as Marlins co-owner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column about it all back in October, saying Jeter’s “Crash Davis Rules of Media Relations don’t apply anymore.” Not too many people echoed that at the time, probably because it came in the wake of a pretty boring introductory press conference and the stakes were pretty low. I did wonder at the time, though, if the media was waiting to turn on Jeter once he actually started making moves in his new role.

I think we can now say the answer to that is yes.

In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, a lot of baseball writers had a lot of questions for Derek Jeter. Jeter, however, decided that he didn’t even need to show up here at the Winter Meetings to answer them, despite the fact that he lives just a couple of hours away.

On Monday morning Buster Olney of ESPN made conspicuous note of it:

Later in the day Jeter deigned to talk to the media via a conference call. As usual, he said mostly nothing, but unlike 1997, 2007 or 2014 (a) he got testy about it; and (b) the press made a note of it:

They likewise noted when he passed the buck to someone below him on the org chart:

Last night I think a dam broke, and I don’t think Jeter will ever be able to sweet non-talk his way out criticism again. It all happened at a football game:

To sum up:

  • Jeter is now bad for not talking to the press;
  • Jeter is not lauded for his composure anymore; and
  • Jeter is being called out as a poor leader who does not face the music.

What a difference a few years and a change of role makes.

All of which, one would think, would make me at least a little happy. I mean, I’ll totally own up to rolling my eyes at the kid glove treatment Jeter got back when he played. About how his attributes, however great, were elevated even above their actual greatness and how his faults were, perversely, spun into attributes. You’d expect that, in light of that, I’d be sorta pleased that the tables have turned.

I’m not happy, though. Indeed, I have something approaching sympathy for Captian Jeets.

Why? Because, while I’d like to see him face the press, defend his moves as owner and explain his vision to Marlins fans everywhere, I know that he cannot. I know that he has no good answers to any of the questions he might be asked because the real answer to all of them is “hey, we need to make money for the ownership group and everything flows from that” and that’s not an answer he’s prepared to give.

Have some sympathy for Derek Jeter. He’s really in a tough, tough spot. Even if he put himself into it.