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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 6, Rays 1: Aaron Hicks was activated from the disabled list yesterday and in the first dang inning the ball found him. Luckily for him and the Yankees, het got that ball, robbing Wilson Ramos of a grand slam with a fantastic catch. A run scored on the pay as a sacrifice fly, but after that disaster was averted, Jordan Montgomery allowed only one run over six innings for the win. Starlin Castro homered and Rays starter Blake Snell walked in two runs with the bases loaded at one point. The Rays were officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Yankees clinched home field for the Wild Card game.

Phillies 4, Nationals 1: Bryce Harper came back and was 0-for-2 with a walk, but no one else did much for the Nats either. Jake Thompson allowed one run over five innings and the Philly pen shut the Nats out over four innings. Cameron Rupp doubled in a couple of runs. The win guarantees that the Phillies will not lose 100 games, so that’s something.

Pirates 10, Orioles 1: Andrew McCutchen hit a grand slam, a three-run homer and an RBI double to give him eight driven in on the night. It was, amazingly, McCutchen’s first ever grand slam. It was the most RBI in a game for a Pirate since Jason Bay knocked in eight back in 2004. Remember Jason Bay?

Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 4: Josh Donaldson hit two homers — it was the sixth time he’s done that this year — and the Jays hit five in all, four of which came off of Chris Sale of all people. Teoscar Hernandez also hit two and Kendrys Morales added one of his own. J.A. Happ allowed one run over seven. Chris Sale has not looked sharp of late and this was probably his last start before the playoffs, where Boston will face Houston on the road. Interesting.

Twins 8, Indians 6: Minnesota was trailing 6-4 in the eighth when Brian Dozier hit a three-run homer off of Bryan Shaw. Byron Buxton added an insurance run the following frame. Buxton also did this:

Thank goodness all of that StatCast noise is all over the view or else you’d never have any IDEA that that was a good catch. That aside, the Twins are now one win from clinching the second Wild Card.

Mets 4, Braves 3: The Mets were down 3-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. They scored two there via a Kevin Plawecki two-run homer and tied it up with an Asdrubal Cabrera sac fly in the bottom of the eighth. Then Travis Taijeron singled home the winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth for the walkoff win.

Brewers 7, Reds 6Domingo Santana hit a three-run homer early and the Brewers never trailed, but the Reds scratched and clawed all game to make Milwaukee earn their win. Zach Davies only lasted four innings due to an illness so Josh Hader picked up the win by striking out six over two and two-thirds innings of relief, bending, but not breaking. As it was, Cincinnati went to its seventh straight loss and the Brewers kept pace with the Rockies, who won and remain one and a half up on Milwaukee for the second Wild Card.

Cardinals 8, Cubs 7: Technically the Brewers could still force a tie in the Central. All it would take is them winning out and the Cubs losing out, leading to a tie-breaker. That’s not likely, but the Cubs did their part last night, falling to the Cards in St. Louis. Tommy Pham and Randal Grichuk homered and drove in two runs each. These two have two more games in Busch Stadium against each other. I’m guessing Chicago would like to clinch there. I’m guessing the Cardinals don’t want ’em to.

Astros 14, Rangers 3Carlos Correa, Brian McCann and Cameron Maybin had three RBIs each and Dallas Keuchel allowed one earned run and five hits in six innings as the Astros win in a romp. The Astros clinched home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs and with Cleveland’s loss are now one game behind the Indians for best record in the AL, which will determine who gets to face the Wild Card winner and who, alternatively, faces the Red Sox.

Angels 9, White Sox 3Mike Trout hit his 31st homer and he, Brandon Phillips and Luis Valbuena all homered in the Angels’ six-run second inning. Albert Pujols was 2-for-4 and drove in two. In the process he joined Alex Rodriguez as the only other player to knock in 100 runs in 14 seasons. The Angels are five games back of Minnesota for the second Wild Card with five games to play. Parker Bridwell:

“We’re not out yet. We’ve still got a chance. We’ve got to be optimistic. I’m excited to see where it goes. Things have to fall in place for us, but you never know.”

Royals 2, Tigers 1: Jason Vargas won his 18th game of the year with a one-run, six inning performance against the Tigers. Eric Hosmer doubled in a run. Whit Merrifield hit a sac fly. Ian Kinsler‘s 2018 option vested. I’m sure he’s super happy about that given where Detroit is headed in 2018 but I guess it’s better than a kick to the can.

Rockies 6, Marlins 0: Tyler Anderson tossed shutout ball for seven innings and Trevor Story hit a three-run homer in the Rockies’ four-run first inning in a game Colorado needed badly. Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer. The Rockies remain one and a half up on the Brewers for the second Wild Card. Only one game in the loss column.

Diamondbacks 11, Giants 4J.D. Martinez hit a grand slam and drove in six. He’s been stupidly good since coming to Arizona in a trade on July 18, hitting 28 home, 30 in the second half, 15 in the month of September and 44 on the season. His OPS since coming over from Detroit: 1.133.

Mariners 6, Athletics 3Danny Valencia hit a three-run homer and Yonder Alonso added a two-run shot. For those of you who don’t pay super close attention to west coast baseball, they did it for Seattle, not for Oakland, where each of them used to play. That had to make the A’s feel good.

Dodgers 9, Padres 2: Adrian Gonzalez homered. Yasmani Grandal and Corey Seager each had a three-run homer and Alex Wood was solid. The Dodgers have won three and a row and five of six, suggesting that their late swoon is finally past them. With the win the Dodgers clinch home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs. They still have a line on that for the World Series if they make it that far too.

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.