Bill Baer

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 15: Matt Klentak, right, Vice President and General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies talks with Peter Bourjos #17 behind the batting cage before the start of an MLB game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on April 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All MLB players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Phillies GM Matt Klentak: “We’re not blind … our run differential is negative by a significant margin.”

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The Phillies dropped Sunday’s series finale to the Reds 9-4, sending their run differential down to -30. The only teams with a worse run differential are the Braves (-62), Twins (-57), Athletics (-51), Reds (-50), and Brewers (-38). Their expected record is 15-23. Instead, they sit at 22-16, tied for second place in the NL East.

With last year’s trade of Cole Hamels and the recent winter trade of Ken Giles, the Phillies further committed to their rebuilding process, so their success a month and a half into the season comes as a big surprise. While GM Matt Klentak likes the culture of winning being brought to the clubhouse, he is not about to go to Party City for balloons, streamers, and noise makers.

“We’re not blind to the fact that our run differential is negative by a significant margin,” Klentak said, via Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Indeed, the Phillies have the second-worst offense in baseball, averaging 3.31 runs per game. Only the Braves (3.06) have been worse. The Phillies don’t do much of anything right offensively, with the third-lowest batting average in the majors at .231, the worst on-base percentage at .288, and the second-worst slugging percentage at .364.

Somehow, though, the Phillies are 14-3 in one-run games. Success in one-run games is typically correlated with bullpen strength, but the Phillies’ 4.03 relief ERA is higher than the major league average of 3.82. Furthermore, teams that enjoy lots of success in one-run games in one year haven’t often repeated the success in the following year. So, understandably, there are plenty of skeptics about the Phillies’ shocking start. Even Klentak doesn’t sound convinced. But you have to start somewhere, and maybe this becomes the year the Phillies finish higher than fourth place for the first time since 2012.

Gerrit Cole: “I don’t really think [the Cubs are] the best team in baseball.”

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 15, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Pirates ace Gerrit Cole had little issue dominating baseball’s best team by record. The Cubs entered play Sunday at 27-8, four games better than the next best team in baseball — the cross-town rival White Sox (24-13). Cole, on Sunday, held the Cubs scoreless over eight innings, yielding only three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts on 95 pitches.

The Pirates scored once in the seventh inning on an RBI double by Jung Ho Kang. Kang made it a 2-0 game in the top of the ninth with a solo home run off of Hector Rondon. Closer Mark Melancon yielded an RBI single to Anthony Rizzo in the bottom of the ninth, but was able to hang on for the 2-1 victory.

After the game, Cole didn’t seem terribly impressed by the Cubs. Via Tony Andracki of CSN Chicago, Cole said, “I don’t really think [the Cubs are] the best team in baseball.”

The second-place Pirates are now 19-17, eight games behind the Cubs. The two clubs meet again at Wrigley Field for a three-game set beginning on June 17.

Jose Bautista: Rangers lack leadership “when it comes to playing baseball the right way.”

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 15:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks off the field with Ryan Goins #17 after the benches cleared in the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 15, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Jose Bautista had a lot to say after Sunday’s 7-6 loss to the Rangers, which included two benches-clearing incidents. Bautista, who was hit by a Matt Bush fastball, slid late into second baseman Rougned Odor in an attempt to break up a double play. Odor swung at Bautista, landing one punch clean on the outfielder’s jaw.

After the game, Bautista said to the media, which included MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm:

No matter how dirty his slide was — and it appeared to be plenty dirty — Bautista shouldn’t have been punched, because that’s not the way grown adults handle disputes. That being said, Bautista dropping a “play the right way” is hilarious. It’s the “play the game the right way” crowd (which includes Hall of Famer Goose Gossage) that loathes Bautista for his ALDS bat flip last year. Gossage, in March, said Bautista is, “a f—ing disgrace to the game.”

Furthermore, Bautista acting like the good guy for not actually injuring Odor is terrible. You don’t get a trophy for doing the bare minimum for being a decent human being. Bautista’s motivation for not injuring Odor should be that competitors in a children’s game want to prioritize each other’s safety above all else. At the end of the day, these grown men should remember they’re wearing pajamas chasing baseballs around in the grass, not warriors battling to the death in the coliseum.

Danny Valencia homered three times for the Athletics on Sunday, including the game-winner

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Athletics third baseman Danny Valencia notched the first three-homer game of his career and just his fourth multi-homer game against the Rays on Sunday. The third and final home run happened to be the game-winner, pushing the A’s to a 7-6 victory at Tropicana Field.

Valencia went yard in the first inning with the bases empty off of Matt Moore, breaking a scoreless tie. He followed up with a two-run shot in the top of the fifth off of Moore, reducing the Athletics’ deficit to 5-4. Finally, with a runner on first base and two outs against Steve Geltz, Valencia slugged a no-doubt home run to left-center field to put the A’s up 7-6.

Here’s that third home run:

Valencia is now hitting .342/.377/.589 with five home runs and 10 RBI in 77 plate appearances on the year. He recently battled a hamstring injury, so he’s been sharing third base with Chris Coghlan and Yonder Alonso lately.

Video: Jose Bautista slides late into Rougned Odor, sparking benches to empty

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 15:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers holds Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays after being punched by Rougned Odor #12 in the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 15, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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A benches-clearing fracas ensued in Arlington, Texas in the eighth inning of Sunday’s series finale between the Blue Jays and Rangers. The two clubs aren’t the best of friends after Jose Bautista‘s infamous bat flip, but the peace had been kept in the six previous meetings between the two teams this season.

That changed on Sunday. Rangers pitcher Matt Bush hit Bautista with a fastball and that earned both teams a warning. Later in the inning, against Jake Diekman, Justin Smoak hit an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. Bautista, who has already been on the wrong end of a slide into second base, slid late into Rougned Odor. Odor was not happy about it, so he took a few swings at Bautista. One of the punches hit Bautista square in the jaw, sending the outfielder’s sunglasses flying off of his face. Both benches emptied and chaos ensued.

Here’s the video:

The next inning, Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Chavez drilled Prince Fielder with a first-pitch fastball and immediately walked towards the dugout, knowing he would be ejected. The benches emptied again but peace was more quickly restored.

As mentioned in the first post on the subject, Odor, Bautista, Bush, and Jesse Chavez are likely looking at fines and possible suspensions.

Marcus Stroman tweeted during the game that he has “zero respect” for Odor and “never will.”