Craig Calcaterra

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Happy Jackie Robinson Day

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As we note every April 15, today is Jackie Robinson Day.

Baseball celebrates a lot of anniversaries, but none more important. You know this already, of course, but one cannot overstate the significance of the fact that sixty-eight years ago today Robinson became the first black man to play major league baseball in the modern era. It’s not ancient history. Really, many of your parents were alive at a time when only white men were allowed to play baseball. I’ve known this my whole life but it never ceases to boggle my mind.

As has become tradition, players will wear 42 on their jerseys today. And though you know the general story, you should take some extra time to reacquaint yourself with Robinson’s story once again. You should go check out Jackie’s Baseball-Reference.com page too, as we sometimes spend so much time talking about his historical significance that we forget he was a hell of a baseball player regardless. It’s also worth remembering that Robinson’s post-playing career, which includes a lot of important work in the civil rights movement, was also significant.

Happy 42 Day.

The new turf at Rogers Centre is slow

Rogers Centre
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The Blue Jays got new artificial turf at Rogers Centre this past offseason. It’s the same stuff they had before, just new. But in the early going it is playing slllllloooooooooooow. Brendan Kennedy of The Star spoke to Jose Bautista about it:

“It’s weird, but we’re going to have to adjust,” he said. “It’s definitely a lot slower than it was in the past and a lot slower than any other artificial turf I’ve ever laid my feet on.”

Kennedy’s story presents the tradeoffs — it may play slow and thus cut down on some singles getting through, but it’s softer and easier on everyone’s body. He also notes, however, that the effects may be temporary and that the turf should settle in and harden up some after it’s been used and rolled up and unrolled a few times.

All of which just reminds us that artificial turf is dumb for baseball and that we will be ever-so-thankful when the Jays get natural grass in 2018 and the Rays, eventually, find a ballpark that isn’t a dump.

 

Nelson Cruz has homered in four straight games

Nelson Cruz
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I think most people figured that, though he’d help Seattle’s offense this year, it was unreasonable to expect that Nelson Cruz would do as well with the Mariners as he did with the Orioles last year. A tougher hitting environment is one reason. The fact that, really, Cruz’s 2014 was probably a bit of an outlier for him.

I guess nobody told Cruz that, though, because he has started out 2015 just as well if not better than he did in 2014. Cruz homered in his fourth consecutive game last night, finishing 1-for-3 with a pair of walks. Overall he has five homers.

The M’s gave Cruz a four-year, $57 million deal. I still doubt he’s worth that deal when all four years are said and done, but so far so good.

Nolan Arenado made an absolutely ridiculous play

Nolan Arenado
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I don’t know what’s more impressive: that Nolan Arenado sprinted toward the bullpens, tarp and wall with apparently no regard for his own safety, that he actually caught the dang ball or that, after doing it and going arse-over-teakettle in the process, he managed to pop up and make a strong throw to third almost getting the double play.

Just sick. 100% sick.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

Blake Treinen
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Red Sox 8, Nationals 7: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the Nationals defense stunk and was a big reason they lost the game. Indeed, the Sox scored three runs in the seventh inning with the aid of zero (0) hits. How? Like this: Hanley Ramirez reached first base on yet another Ian Desmond error. Then Matt Thronton hit Shane Victorino. Ramirez went to third on a flyout, Thornton then hit Allen Craig to load the bases (the Nats have hit a LOT of Red Sox this series). Enter reliever Blake Treinen who fielded a Ryan Hanigan comebacker, dropped it, allowing Ramirez to score then threw it pas the catcher which allowed Victorino to score. Craig then came in with the go-ahead run on groundout.

The Nationals are still the most talented team in the NL East. It’d be folly to not say they’ll still win the division after a mere week or so’s worth of play. Yet they are 2-6, in last place in the division and have earned that spot by playing, perhaps, the worst baseball of anyone in the league so far. That’s pretty darn special.

Orioles 4, Yankees 3: Miguel Gonzalez struck out ten. Adam Jones homered and hit a sac fly. Postgame quote from Gonzalez: “Against the Yankees, you can’t give in. Every pitch has to be a quality pitch.” If I was there I’d be seriously inclined to ask “Which teams can you give in to? To whom can you throw junk pitches?” Then they’d take my press pass away and throw me the hell out, I assume. Be totally worth it.

Tigers 2, Pirates 0: Shane Greene is helping the Tigers not miss Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello or the injured Justin Verlander. Here he tossed eight shutout innings. This follows his season debut in which he allowed only an unearned run in eight innings against the Twins.

Rays 3, Blue Jays 2: Steven Souza had a homer that went a mile — officially 463 feet — and then later reached on a bunt single — unoffically 15 feet — and came around to score the go-ahead run. Souza on his homer: “It’s fun when it goes like that. Have you ever cut butter with a knife? That’s what it feels like.” I’m pretty sure Rabbit Angstrom said that to his priest on the golf course in “Rabbit Run.”

White Sox 4, Indians 1: Carlos Carrasco was struck in the face by a line drive in the first inning but thankfully only got a bruised jaw out of it. It did put the bullpen in the game early, however, the White Sox scored two early and that was that. I think the Indians will take that, though, given how much worse the evening could’ve gone.

Marlins 8, Braves 2: It wasn’t like Giancarlo Stanton was gonna hit .130 all year, right? Here he went 3-for-3, doubled, walked twice and drove in four. Also: in his last at bat he didn’t wear his new face guard. The AP recaps didn’t say why. I’ll check out the Miami news later this morning to see if he explained it. Either way, one of his doubles came sans face guard.

Mets 6, Phillies 5: Matt Harvey Day and a win, but Matt Harvey was mortal — giving up three runs on five hits in six innings — and the Mets suffered multiple injuries. David Wright went out with a pulled hamstring which is likely to lay him up for a while. Michael Cuddyer left with a bruised hand, though he’ll likely play today. Chase Utley homered twice in a winning effort in a losing cause. Daniel Murphy hit a homer over the newly moved-in right field wall.

Rangers 8, Angels 2: Robinson Chirinos, the ninth place hitter, drove in five runs on a three-run homer and a two-run double. The double was aided by a miscommunication between Mike Trout and Matt Joyce, but it still counts because those are the rules. Nick Martinez allowed only a single unearned run in seven innings of work.

Reds 3, Cubs 2: Anthony DeSclafani threw seven scoreless innings and Joey Votto had two hits and an RBI to help the Reds stop a three-game losing streak. The pen bent but didn’t break in the eighth and ninth. Which is sort of novel for the Reds so far this year. The not breaking part, I mean.

Athletics 4, Astros 0: Rookie Kendall Graveman and four A’s relievers combined on the shutout. Billy Butler had an RBI double, giving him a hit in every game this year.

Dodgers 6, Mariners 5: Another walkoff win for the Dodgers, this time via a Howie Kendrick two-run double. The rally came off Fernando Rodney, who has allowed six runs in his last two outings. Nelson Cruz homered for the fourth straight game and Robinson Cano hit his first homer of the season.

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 1: Odrisamer Despaigne, who’s got more junk than Fred Sanford’s driveway, allowed one run over seven innings. Dude throws stuff in the 60s and the 90s. If I had him on my team I’d slot him the day after my hardest throwing starter and enjoy the chaos.

Rockies 4, Giants 1: Six pitchers — and some amazing defense — combined on this one for Colorado. The Rockies are 5-0 on the road this year, as everyone assumed they’d be. Among the web gems: a Nolan Arenado diving catch over the tarp and then a Charlie Blackmon play in which he chased down a deep fly at the fence to rob Buster Posey of a hit, both in the same inning. We’ll do separate posts about those here at HBT shortly.