Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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New York’s trade for Frazier, Robertson stokes old Yankees-Red Sox rivalry

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People talk a lot about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but it hasn’t truly been a rivalry in many years. It’s been a decade since they finished within less than six games of each other in the standings. Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez and everyone else who made this Boston-New York games interesting are retired. Heck, David Ortiz held up a “RE2PECT” sign when Derek Jeter retired. There’s no bad blood here anymore. To the extent people talk about this allegedly “bitter rivalry,” they’re engaging in early 21st century nostalgia.

But the trade Brian Cashman made for Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle last night makes things a bit more interesting than it has been for some time.

On one level it changes things because it’s a signal that the Yankees, who have struggled of late after a surprisingly good first half, are truly going for it this year. That they would be wasn’t a given. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year of sorts, with young players like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier getting used to the grind of a full season while New York’s well-stocked farm system matures. The idea: whatever happened this year was gravy, but true, sustained contention for the Yankees would be in the coming years, not in 2017.

While it may have been disappointing for fans, it would’ve been completely reasonable for the Yankees to smile at what they’ve done this year but to stand pat at the deadline, realizing that they’ll have better chances in the future. With Masahiro Tanaka eligible to opt out after this year and with CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda in walk years (and in Pineda’s case, injured) they need to address their rotation for the coming seasons. Those are long-term concerns, not immediate competitive ones, not necessarily amenable to a big splash. By making this trade, however, New York is signaling that it is, without question, shooting to make up the 3.5 games separating them and their rivals from Boston in 2017.

On another level, something about this trade gives us that 2003-2004 feeling in that, as the Yankees improved themselves, they also closed off a potential avenue for the Red Sox to do the same.

Boston has made no secret of its desire to fix its dreadful third base situation and over the weekend there were reports that they were interested in acquiring Frazier to do so. And, like almost every other team, they could stand to add relievers. By taking the best third baseman and arguably the best available bullpen arm in Frazier and Robertson, the Yankees made a bold, ready-for-storyline-based-columns move in the zero-sum competition with Boston.

I don’t expect all of this to translate into Varitek-Rodriguez-style face-shoving or Pedro Martinez-style bulletin board material, but it certainly makes the Red Sox-Yankees a a bit more interesting than it’s been of late. At the very least it should help tighten things up between the east coast rivals in the AL East and give those of us who remember the Boston-New York rivalry of the early 2000s something to talk about.

At least as long as the second place Rays don’t win 18 of 20 and bury them both. That would be a major bummer for us old guys and all the storyline writers, eh?

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cubs 5, Braves 1: The Cubs get a four-run third inning thanks to homers from Javier Baez and Willson Contreras while John Lackey and four relievers tie up Atlanta’s bats. Chicago wins its fifth in a row, pulling to within 2.5 games of Milwaukee, because . . .

Pirates 4, Brewers 3: . . . Milwaukee dropped its third in a row to the surging Pirates. This despite taking a 3-0 lead in the third on a Travis Shaw three-run homer. It didn’t hold up, though, thanks to Francisco Cervelli and Josh Harrison going deep in the sixth which tied it, followed by a go-ahead RBI single by David Freese. Three of those six inning runs came with two outs. The inning was extended by a Starling Marte walk. Marte also singled and made a nifty diving catch in left. Welcome back, Mr. Marte.

Cardinals 5, Mets 0: The Cardinals likewise gain ground on the Brewers as Michael Wacha twirled a three-hit, complete game shutout, striking out eight. He also had a hit and knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice. Matt Carpenter went 4-for-5. The best play in the game for the home team came via New Jersey governor Chris Christie but he got booed like crazy for it.

Yankees 6, Twins 3: Bartolo Colon’s debut with the Twins looked a lot like his time with the Braves. The big man was eminently hittable, giving up four runs on eight hits in four innings of work. The Yankees knocked him out of the game in the fifth after he gave up two hits to start the inning. Both of those runners and three more scored. That included Aaron Judge who singled in a run and then was knocked in on a Didi Gregorius homer. Judge went 2-for-4 and drew a walk, so can we maybe stop acting like the Home Run Derby took away all of his mojo? In other news, the Yankees got some new players.

Dodgers 1, White Sox 0: Cody Bellinger singled in a run in the first inning and Clayton Kershaw tossed seven shutout innings, scattering seven hits, making that one run stand up. That’s ten straight wins for the Dodgers, who now lead the west by 10.5 games and have a +173 run differential. They have won 30 of their last 34. They are the first team to do that in 40 years.

Orioles 12, Rangers 1: Baltimore jumped all over Tyson Ross, scoring six in the first before making an out and adding four more in the fourth. The bloodbath featured two homers from Chris Davis — one of which was a grand slam — and bombs from Trey Mancini and Seth Smith. Davis knocked in six runs in all. It wasn’t just the Davis show, though, as Baltimore rattled off 16 hits in all.

Diamondbacks 11, Reds 2: The Dbacks also had a six-run inning — the fifth — as the Reds pitching continues to be an absolute horror show post-All-Star break. Nine players had extra base hits. On the mound: Ray beat Romano. Everybody loves run support. In other news, the Dbacks will have a new outfielder report for duty today.

Phillies 5, Marlins 2: It was a 2-2 game until the eighth when Maikel Franco hit a solo homer. Philly added two more in the final frame with a two-run homer from Nick Williams. Williams has played 15 games since his callup. He’s hitting .302/.333/.547 with three homers and ten driven in.

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4: Boston had a long weekend in which they played a marathon game followed by a Sunday day-night doubleheader. They lost on Monday and looked like they were dragging, so the last thing they needed was to go 15 innings last night. I guess 15 innings as more tolerable when you win in the end, however, and that they did as Hanley Ramirez hit a walkoff homer. Dustin Pedroia helped get them to extras, as he homered and hit an RBI double in the sixth and seventh, respectively, to tie things up after Toronto took a 3-1 lead in the fifth.

Astros 6, Mariners 2: Houston got bad news yesterday when they learned they’d be without shortstop Carlos Correa for eight weeks, but they didn’t let it faze them on the field. Evan Gattis homered twice and Brad Peacock allowed one run on three hits and struck out nine in seven innings.

Tigers 9, Royals 3: Trading away J.D. Martinez is probably a good place to mark the beginning of a new, rebuilding (or at least reshuffling) era for the Tigers, but they started that era off well enough, as Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, tripled and drove in five, Victor Martinez drove in two and the Tigers notched 16 hits in all. Castellanos after the game:

“We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder now.”

Maybe if you did that from April through Monday they wouldn’t have traded away Martinez?

Rockies 9, Padres 7: Gerardo Parra went 3-for-3 with two walks, scoring three times, Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer and Carlos Gonzalez knocked in three. Colorado has won three in a row, scoring 31 runs in those games.

Rays 4, Athletics 3: Tampa Bay was down by one in the ninth and rallied for two. Both runs scored with two out as Adeiny Hechavarria and Shane Peterson hit consecutive RBI singles. The Rays remain two back of the Sox.

Nationals 4, Angels 3: Bryce Harper homered over Mike Trout‘s head in the first inning and Trout homered to center in the second. That would be Trout’s only hit, however, while Harper ended up going 4-for-4 and scoring twice. Edwin Jackson made his debut for the Nats and he was good, allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings of work. Edwin Jackson has to have the weirdest career in living memory. He’s going to disappear in a few months and then show up with yet another team in, like, three years and pitch well again. Then he’s just gonna roam the Earth like Caine from “Kung-Fu,” getting into adventures and making spot starts and stuff.

Giants 2, Indians 1: Eduardo Nunez scored the tying run in the sixth when Buster Posey knocked him in and he hit a walkoff RBI single in the 10th. The win was set up by Conor Gillaspie hitting a pinch-hit double to start the rally. It was also his 30th birthday, so nice day for him. Ty Blach got a no-decision but allowed only one run on seven hits over seven innings of work.

The Rays acquire reliever Chaz Roe

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Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that the Tampa Bay Rays have acquired righty reliever Chaz Roe from the Braves in exchange for cash considerations.

Roe has missed most of the season with an injured lat muscle and has not pitched much since coming back (two big league innings, four minor league innings). That’s OK, though, as non-elite relievers are the cannon fodder of baseball and you can’t win a war without cannon fodder. Or something. I don’t know. I’ve been reading a bunch of Wikipedia articles about the Crimean War today so I’m sorta distracted.

Roe has pitched parts of five seasons in the bigs, with a 4.16 ERA, 104 strikeouts and 49 walks in 97.1 innings.