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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 5, Twins 2: Carlos Carrasco had no trouble with the Twins’ hangover lineup, striking out 14 in eight and a third shutout innings. Two-run homers from Jason Kipnis and Roberto Perez, and a solo shot from Jay Bruce, provided all the offense needed.

Cubs 2, Cardinals 1: Like the Twins, the Cubs trotted out a hangover lineup, absent several regulars a day after clinching the division. Unlike them they won, and they eliminated the Cardinals from playoff contention as well. The Cubs took the lead in the top of the 11th on a Taylor Davis RBI double and the game — and the contending portion of the Cardinals’ season ended — when Leonys Martin leaped at the center-field fence to rob Paul DeJong of a would-be tying home run.

Brewers 4, Reds 3: Milwaukee closes to within two games of the Rockies for the second Wild Card with three left to play in what is, basically, the only playoff race drama left. The game was moved to mid-afternoon to avoid a conflict with the Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears game, which was played 120 miles away. I can’t think of any other place where they’d move a Major League Baseball game for a competing football game that did not have, like, a shared parking lot situation or some other concrete logistical issue.

Rays 9, Yankees 6Aaron JudgeBrett Gardner , Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks all homers for the Yankees, who had a 4-1 lead at one point, but the Rays feasted on Sonny Gray and the Yankees bullpen for seven runs in the fifth to keep the Yankees from gaining a game on the Red Sox. One of the runs that inning came on a wild pitch, another on a passed ball. Two came on a Wilson Ramos two-run homer and two on a Peter Bourjos RBI triple.

Nationals 5, Pirates 4: Sean Doolittle blew the save in the top of the ninth, allowing the Pirates to score two runs on a Josh Bell two-run homer to tie things up, but the Nats came back in the bottom half with Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy singles which set up a walkoff RBI single from Alejandro De Aza. De Aza had entered as a replacement for Howie Kendrick, who had shaken himself up a bit on a diving catch in the third inning and ended up going 2-for-3 with two RBI.

Astros 12, Red Sox 2: This was Game One of at least seven straight and possibly nine straight between these two clubs. Advantage: Houston. Jose Altuve had three of Houston’s 17 hits. Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez each drove in three and Alex Bregman knocked in two. Correa, Bregman and Brian McCann each homered. The Red Sox will likely clinch the division during this series. I wonder if they’ll have to do it while scoreboard watching for a Yankees loss.

Marlins 7, Braves 1: Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers to get him to 59 on the year. One was a solo home run in the fourth, the other a two-run drive in the eighth. Back in July Stanton was eliminated in the first round of the Home Run Derby. He has hit 33 in games that count since.

Athletics 4, Rangers 1: Sean Manaea allowed one run, unearned, in six and two-thirds and Ryon Healy hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the sixth to put the A’s over the petering-out Rangers. He was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double but it didn’t matter to anything but the back of his baseball card. Bruce Maxwell took a knee in the bullpen during the National Anthem — the first time he’s done it on the road — and got some scattered boos from the Rangers crowd. Guess that’s just part of his life now.

White Sox 5, Angels 4Rob Brantly hit the game-tying home run in the eighth and then Tim Anderson hauled butt all the way from first base on a Rymer Liriano single to put the White Sox up for good two batters later. The Angels started Bud Norris again, because they seem hell-bent on saving $500,000 they’d have to give him if he made 60 relief appearances. How petty.

Tigers 4, Royals 1: Daniel Norris tossed five scoreless innings and the Tigers scored all four of their runs in the fifth to snap their nine-game winning streak. Three of them scored on a Nicholas Castellanos RBI double. He and Miguel Cabrera, assuming he doesn’t require a back-ectomy this offseason, are gonna be the only two dudes worth seeing in Detroit next year.

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.