Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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The Twins recall Byron Buxton. Again.

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It’s been an up and down season for the Twins top prospect, Byron Buxton. Up to the bigs, down to the minors. His performance has been up and down too: up in the minors, down in the bigs. Now that Minnesota is mired in a 13-game losing streak and sport the worst record in the majors, however, they have made the wise decision to call him up and let him figure it out at the major league level.

Buxton was sent down in early August after hitting .193/.247/.315 over 218 big league plate appearances. In 188 at-bats with Triple-A Rochester, however, he has hit .309/.362/.574. There are such things as AAAA hitters — guys who crush it in the minors but just can’t do it in the bigs — but Buxton is too young and too talented to be categorized thusly. It makes total sense for the Twins to make at least a little lemonade out of this lemon of a season. And maybe that’ll be Buxton.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 3, White Sox 2: A pinch-hit walkoff sac fly from Tyler Collins completes the Tigers’ sweep of the Chisox. JaCoby Jones was key once again, doubling twice, with the second one helping put him in position to score the winning run. Justin Verlander and Chris Sale each allowed two runs in seven and eight innings, respectively, but neither figured in the decision.

Red Sox 8, Rays 6: Down 4-1 in the fifth, Hanley Ramirez hit a grand slam. They got an insurance run with a Jackie Bradley Jr. homer but the pen, for the second game in a row, coughed up the lead late. Boston rallied, however, with two in the bottom half of the inning. That bullpen is gonna be a source of worry down the stretch. Kevin Kiermaier had three hits for the Rays, which is one less cat than I now have. Yes, I got a fourth cat. It’s my fiancee’s cat, who comes with the deal of cohabitation. Kevin, please give a warm welcome to Fran. Hit a home run for her or something. Act like you care for once.

Rangers 14, Mariners 1: A day after his walkoff homer, Rougned Odor homers twice. Carlos Gomez hit a grand slam, which I’m sure makes Astros fans super happy. All in all, though, this one was a laugher. A laugher for the Rangers anyway. The Mariners and their fans are probably pretty sad about it. Including Mariners fan Ashley Varela who, if you missed the news yesterday, is HardballTalk’s new weekend writer.

Astros 4, Athletics 3: Houston was down 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth with a runner on third. There were two outs. Liam Hendicks then struck out Alex Bregman, so on to the ninth–no! Not on to the ninth. Strike three was a wild pitch which allowed Bregman to make it to first and allowed the runner to score. With a new lease on life, Jose Altuve tripled home Bregman to tie it and then Evan Gattis singled home Altuve. There are a lot of ways to lose a game and no loss is super fun to experience, but this one has to be pretty close to the worst.

Rockies 7, Dodgers 0; Dodgers 10, Rockies 8: Ah, the split double header. Over six hours of baseball plus the time in between the two games and you’re right back where you started when the day began. Well, I suppose the Dodgers are a half game worse off than where they began given that the Giants won, but you know what I mean. Could’ve been way worse for L.A., though. After getting spanked in Game 1, they were down 8-2 in the eighth inning of the nightcap before plating three in the eighth and then, down by two, getting a grand slam with two out in the ninth from Andrew Toles to complete the dramatic come-from-behind win. Toles, by the way, is hitting .579 with three homers in his last 10 games.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 2: Shelby Miller came back from the minors and did not embarrass himself — he allowed two runs in six innings — but he got the loss all the same thanks to his dudes only scratching out one run while he was the pitcher of record. Buster Posey doubled in a run and sac-flied in another.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 3: Aaron Sanchez spent ten days in Dunedin — which would be a great name for a coming of age movie, by the way — to limit his innings. He came back fresh to win his 13th game after allowing one run — unearned — in six innings. Toronto took two of the three games from the O’s, who are fading from view in the AL East race and now find themselves tied for the final wild card spot with the Tigers.

Angels 3, Reds 0: Ricky Nolasco tosses a Maddux, shutting out the Reds on a mere 94 pitches in a game that lasted a mere two hours and ten minutes, making it even more Madduxian than most of these affairs. The Reds only used three pitchers themselves. The Reds must’ve been eager to get that flight back to Ohio. Who isn’t eager to get back to Ohio? Chrissie Hynde maybe, but that’s it.

Nationals 2, Phillies 1: The same number of total runs were scored in this game that were scored in the Angels-Reds game. It just took five more pitchers and 40 more minutes to get there. Jayson Werth homered in the first, Freddy Galvis hit a solo shot to tie it in the fifth and Wilson Ramos singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh.

Indians 8, Twins 4: Corey Kluber gets his seventh straight win, striking out 11. The Twins have lost 13 in a row. It’s the longest losing streak for any team in the bigs this year. It’s the second longest in Twins history, one short of their 14-game skid in 1982.

Braves 8, Padres 1: With this win and the Twins loss, the Braves no longer have the worst record in all of baseball! Yay! Matt Wisler struck out ten in six innings, helping Atlanta, for the time being anyway, out of the first pick in the 2017 draft. Wait. Oh, crap. That was the only thing my guys were playing for. They even fail at failing.

Mets 5, Marlins 2: The Mets keep on winning. Kelly Johnson hit a three-run double in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and to give New York their ninth win in 11 games. Bad news, though, as it looks like second baseman Neil Walker is going to have season-ending back surgery.

Cubs 6, Pirates 5: The Cubs sweep the Pirates. Kris Bryant hit a homer and made a couple of sweet defensive plays. Not as sweet as Addison Russell‘s play, though:

The bases were loaded there too, so that catch put an end to a threat which could’ve altered the course of the game. Everything is coming up Cubbies this year.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 1: Matt Garza allowed one run over seven innings, outdueling Luke Weaver, who struck out ten in six. Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ three-run homer in the third was all Milwaukee needed.

Yankees 5, Royals 4: New York was down 4-0 heading into the sixth but rallied in that inning and the next with a Starlin Castro two-run homer and a couple of sac flies. It stayed tied at four until the 13th inning when another sac fly — this one from Brian McCann — gave the Yankees the lead and, eventually, the victory. New York is only 2.5 out of the Wild Card. The only real downside to this surprising surge is that, if they complete it and make the playoffs, everyone’s gonna write “getting rid of A-Rod was what the Yankees needed to win!” columns. They probably already have them drafted. And none of them probably mention that the Yankees won the wild card last year with A-Rod on the team.

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.