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And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Yankees 4, Red Sox 1 (16 innings): Chaos erupted in the 11th inning of Saturday’s Yankees-Red Sox game, prompting Boston manager John Farrell to play the remainder of the 16-inning, five hour and 50-minute game under protest. With one out and a runner on first, the trouble officially began on Jacoby Ellsbury‘s routine groundout to first base. First baseman Mitch Moreland tossed the ball to Xander Bogaerts at second base, who flipped it back to first for the double play. Matt Holliday, perhaps not realizing he was already ruled out, doubled back to first base as Ellsbury touched the bag. The throw clipped Ellsbury in the leg and prevented Moreland from completing the double play, leaving Ellsbury safe on first base on a force out.

Things got sticky when the crew chief Gary Cederstrom called for a rules check on the play; according to official league rules, that particular kind of interference is only reviewable at the umpire’s discretion. The umpires deliberated for four minutes and 59 seconds, eventually ruling in the Yankees’ favor and allowing Ellsbury to stay on first. Farrell informed Cederstrom that he would play the rest of the game under protest, while Robby Scott cleaned up the rest of the inning with two quick outs. The Yankees eventually hung on for the win with Didi Gregorius‘ go-ahead RBI single in the 16th inning and a 1-2-3 conclusion from Ben Heller.

Tigers 11, Blue Jays 1: Michael Fulmer came through for the Tigers on Saturday with one of his best performances of the season, limiting the Blue Jays to two hits, a run and three strikeouts over eight solid innings. The 10-run lead didn’t hurt, either, with home runs from Nicholas Castellanos, Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez powering the club to its first win coming out of the All-Star break.

Cubs 10, Orioles 3: Until Saturday, Jake Arrieta had not stepped foot in Camden Yards since he suited up with the Orioles in 2013. He looked right at home there against his former team, procuring his ninth win of the year on 6 2/3 innings of four-hit, two-run ball. The Cubs’ offense spared no expense in the win, smashing three home runs and building a cushy seven-run lead as they broke .500 for the first time since last Friday. They’ll need just 5.5 more games to catch the Brewers, who currently sit atop the NL Central standings with a 52-41 record.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 0: The Cardinals evened their series with the Pirates on Saturday, backed by a well-rounded effort from starter Lance Lynn. Lynn spun 6 1/3 scoreless innings and tacked on an RBI double in the fifth inning to help pad a four-run lead. While the club steered clear of any home runs, lest they end up in the river, St. Louis reliever Matt Bowman still found an opportunity to make the game interesting before taking the mound in the seventh:

Braves 8, Diamondbacks 5: The Braves dominated again on Saturday, pushing the Diamondbacks’ losing streak to four straight games after mounting a four-run rally in the sixth inning. Neither team is particularly close to competing for its respective division lead — following Saturday’s game, they both sit in second place with a 9.5-game deficit — but it’ll take more than two back-to-back wins for the Braves to completely erase the D-backs’ eight-game advantage in the NL wild card race.

Mets 9, Rockies 3: Seth Lugo had a banner night against the Rockies, earning his fourth win of the season and clubbing his first career home run against Colorado reliever Chris Rusin:

It wasn’t all fun and games for the Mets, however, who lost Yoenis Cespedes to a tweaked hip in the sixth inning. The Rockies also took a blow in the first inning when starter Tyler Chatwood was forced to exit after just 19 pitches with a right calf strain.

Dodgers 7, Marlins 1: It only took the Dodgers 133 years and a cross-country move to see their first rookie hit for the cycle. Cody Bellinger took home the honors on Saturday, completing the four-hit feat with a triple to the warning track to set a new franchise milestone.

Twins 4, Astros 2: After dominating opposing teams with a cumulative 29 runs scored in their last two starts, the Astros were finally felled by the Twins and club ace Johan Santana. Santana went six strong innings for his 11th win, holding the league-leading ‘Stros to one Yuli Gurriel RBI double off the left field wall and one 417-foot home run from Jose Altuve.

Brewers 3, Phillies 2: The Brewers preserved their 5.5-game lead in the NL Central with a dramatic last-minute finish on Saturday, taking the lead on Travis Shaw‘s tie-breaking eighth-inning home run for their fourth consecutive series win. Milwaukee right-hander Jimmy Nelson flummoxed the Phillies through 6 2/3 innings with three hits, two runs and nine strikeouts, establishing his fourth straight start with three or fewer runs allowed.

Mariners 4, White Sox 3: The Mariners continued to creep up on .500 with their second consecutive win over the White Sox, edging past them with Nelson Cruz’s two-run homer in the sixth inning. It was hardly a perfect game — Steve Cishek missed a pickoff throw, Jean Segura committed a fielding error, Mitch Haniger jammed his finger on an attempted bunt and Felix Hernandez couldn’t find a way to retire Melky Cabrera — but a strong performance by the bullpen and Cruz’s timely blast helped secure their 43rd win of the year.

Nationals 10, Reds 7: Anthony Rendon is hitting a blistering .308/411/.557 this year, and Saturday’s game was no exception. The Nationals’ slugger went 3-for-3 with two home runs, one of which lifted the Nats to a 10-run lead when he cleared the bases in the seventh inning for his second career grand slam:

That lead nearly evaporated in the next two innings, when Austin Adams and Trevor Gott combined to allow seven unanswered runs. Matt Grace relieved Gott after five straight batters reached base in the ninth inning, inducing three quick outs to retire the Reds and clinch the series win.

Rangers 1, Royals 0: Cole Hamels and Danny Duffy were locked into a fierce pitcher’s duel on Saturday, one that finally ended in the ninth inning when Shin-Soo Choo clipped an RBI single down the third base line for the first and only run of the night. Hamels took a no-decision in the win, cutting his win streak short at two games, but managed to extend his scoreless streak to 21 innings in a row.

Padres 5, Giants 3: Three months after a dirt bike accident cost Madison Bumgarner his starting role, the Giants’ ace returned to the mound with a working shoulder and a 3.00 ERA to defend. Bumgarner worked seven innings with three runs, two walks and five strikeouts, racking up a respectable 102 pitches before getting pulled for Hunter Strickland.

Finding enough run support was another story altogether — entering Saturday, Bumgarner averaged just 1.75 runs of support per outing — and the Giants faltered in the ninth inning, struggling to find a foothold against Brandon Maurer. The Padres had no such qualms about hitting Steven Okert, and former Giant Hector Sanchez knocked in the game-winning run with his first career walk-off home run.

Athletics 5, Indians 3: It’s one thing to crush your first major league home run after just 12 games in the big leagues, and another thing to hit your first two major league home runs in the same game, and another thing altogether to do it off of renowned ace Corey Kluber. Rookie third baseman Matt Chapman was up to the task, however, smashing a 409-foot home run off of Kluber in the third inning of Saturday’s win and returning in the eighth for a second helping.

Rays 6, Angels 3: Logan Morrison snapped a hitless streak of 18 at-bats during Saturday’s win over the Angels, going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the third inning. It was a much-needed boost for the first baseman, who is on pace for his most productive major league season yet and entered Saturday with a .254/.363/.556 batting line and 24 home runs. Backing Morrison’s efforts was Rays’ starter Alex Cobb, who issued one run and four strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings to capture his eighth win of the year and bring the club within three games of the first-place Red Sox.

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

Associated Press
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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.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
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Here are the scores. Oh, and here is the reason why, Bruce Maxwell notwithstanding, you’re not likely to see all that much protesting in Major League Baseball like we saw in football yesterday. Here are the highlights:

Diamondbacks 3, Marlins 2J.D. Martinez hit a two-out, bases-loaded RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to secure the walkoff win and, more importantly, to clinch the top Wild Card position for the Diamondbacks. They had learned they had clinched a postseason spot when it was announced in the fourth inning that the Cardinals and Brewers had each lost, but the hit and home field clincher gave them a nice boost for their postgame celebration.

Rockies 8, Padres 4: The Rockies have been faltering of late, but so has everyone else on their tail for the second Wild Card, so a split with the Padres is Ok for the moment. Gerardo Parra hit a tiebreaking single in a two-run third inning and Pat Valaika and Charlie Blackmon hit back-to-back home runs in the ninth for some insurance as Colorado extends their Wild Card lead to two games. They’ll be the last team playing meaningful games in the 2017 regular season.

Twins 10, Tigers 4: Eduardo Escobar continued his torrid second half, hitting a three run homer, as the Twins complete the four-game sweep. The other teams in the hunt for the second Wild Card should complain to the league office, though, because Minnesota getting to face a Tigers team which is mailing it in so badly that it almost insults the concept of mailing it in as many times as it does in the season’s last ten days is super unfair. They now lead the Angels by four and a half, so the entire AL playoff picture is all but over.

Blue Jays 9, Yankees 5: Jose Bautista probably played his last home game as a Blue Jay — maybe his last home game for anyone — and got a nice sendoff. He also got a couple of hits and  a walk. Aaron Judge hit a couple of homers in a losing cause and is now only one back of Mark McGwire for the rookie record. Fun thing: Jays starter Marcus Stroman warmed up in the bullpen before the game wearing a vintage black Jose Bautista jersey. He had asked a clubhouse attendant to find one for the purpose. The attendant found it in a stadium display case. Stroman: “It’s authenticated. They took it out and let me wear it. I guess they’ll probably wash it and put it back.” Someone should do that with, like, a Babe Ruth or a Willie Mays jersey.

Red Sox 5, Reds 4:  The Reds had a 4-1 lead heading into the eighth, but Mookie Betts doubled with the bases loaded to tie it and then scored from second base on a Rafael Devers infield single for the go-ahead, rally-completing run. The Red Sox’ magic number for the AL East crown is three.

Nationals 3, Mets 2: Max Scherzer struck out ten while allowing one run over six innings to pick up his 16th win of the year. Trea Turner hit a two-run bomb. The Nationals clinched home field advantage for the Division Series, which will probably be against the Cubs.

Orioles 9, Rays 4: J.J. Hardy homered and scored twice. In other news, J.J. Hardy is alive. Nice moment for him, though, as this was almost certainly his last home game as an Oriole.  Chance Sisco also homered, though you’re not going to convince me that his name wasn’t made up by a b-level Hollywood writer trying to create a franchise character. Not sure if “Chance Sisco” is a detective or a bounty hunter, though. I could see it going either way.  Between “Chance Sisco,” “Trey Mancini” and “Manny Machado,” the O’s have to have the best names, aesthetically speaking, in baseball. They should sign a utility infielder named “Cellar Door” to achieve perfection.

Phillies 2, Braves 0: Nick Pivetta and three relievers combine to shut out the Bravos. Maikel Franco homered and Aaron Altherr doubled in a run. The Braves end their inaugural season in Sun Trust Park. Not as terrible a season as some suspected.

Pirates 4, Cardinals 1Starling Marte hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth and Jameson Taillon and five relievers held the Cards to four hits. St. Louis falls two and a half games back of the Rockies for the second Wild Card and are six back of the Cubs with only seven games to play.

Cubs 5, Brewers 0: Jose Quintana pitched a three-hit complete game shutout to push the Cubs to the brink of the NL Central title. Last week’s sweep of the Cardinals and this weekend’s three-of-four from the Brewers was quite the statement from Chicago. They’ll almost certainly clinch the division in St. Louis this week.

White Sox 8, Royals 1Lucas Giolito allowed one hit and one run over seven innings and Avisail Garcia drove in three. The future looks better on the South Side than the past. That’s all that was supposed to be accomplished this season and it has been.

Athletics 8, Rangers 1Jharel Cotton pitched five shutout innings of one-hit ball and Khris Davis hit his 41st homer to give the A’s their seventh straight win. When the series started the Rangers had a legit shot at the second Wild Card. The A’s ended their season for all practical purposes.

Dodgers 3, Giants 1: Clayton Kershaw bounces back nicely from his last start to allow one run on eight hits over eight innings. He picks up his 18th win on the year and reduces his ERA to 2.21. Yasmani Grandal knocked in all of L.A.’s runs via a two-run homer and a sac fly.

Indians 4, Mariners 2: Corey Kluber joins Kershaw in the 18-win club after allowing only two unearned runs and striking out ten over seven innings. It’s his 15th start of the season in which he’s struck out at least ten dudes. I know Ks are cheaper these days, but that’s still pretty dang impressive. Jose Ramirez’s 29th homer of the year broke a 2-2 tie.

Angels 7, Astros 5Luis Valbuena hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh to help the Angels snap a six-game skid that, unfortunately, ended their season for all practical purposes. Brandon Phillips hit his first homer since being traded Aug. 31. In other news, I had forgotten that Brandon Phillips had been traded to the Angels on August 31. It’s been a long season, folks.