Russell Martin played hero for the second straight day as the Blue Jays defeated the Red Sox 5-4 in 11 innings this afternoon at Fenway Park in Boston. Toronto extended their winning streak to 10 games in the process while Boston have now lost five in a row.
Flipping the script from last night, the Blue Jays grabbed an early 4-0 lead against Clay Buchholz with three runs in the top of the third inning and one in the fourth. The Red Sox quickly battled back against R.A. Dickey with three in the fourth inning and a game-tying solo homer from David Ortiz in the sixth.
The game remained tied until Martin hit a long go-ahead solo homer off Matt Barnes in the top of the 11th. You can watch the home run here. Brett Cecil sat down the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the 11th for his second save in as many days.
Thanks to their recent surge, the Blue Jays are 33-30 on the year and sit just 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees for first place in the American League East. They are riding their longest winning streak since they won 11 straight in 2013.
Yankees 5, Mariners 3: Comeback win for the Bombers, who tied it in 9th when Fernando Rodney couldn’t hold a one-run lead and then won it in the 11th thanks to a Garrett Jones three-run HR. The tie came via a two-out double from Stephen Drew who offered some keen insight into his accomplishment: “Just trying to get a good pitch to hit. Not try to do too much.” He ACTUALLY SAID THAT. And people wonder why I don’t go into clubhouses to talk to players after ballgames.
Yuck. Let’s cleanse the cliches from our palate with Lloyd McClendon going crazy after his catcher got ejected in the third inning for flipping out after a bad check swing call on an A-Rod walk:
This is Lloyd’s second stint as a manager and he spent years coaching. I feel like having all of that time in the dugout, much of which he spent learning at Jim Leyland’s elbow, really helped his showmanship here. That’s one of the things we’re losing with all of these handsome, low-experience managers in the game. They still think like players. More apt to offer those “good pitch to hit, not trying to do too much” cliches rather than let the old id loose. I don’t want to go back to the days of Billy Martin because he was a big jackass, but once in a while I’d like to see some friggin’ fire out there. Thank you, Lloyd, from giving us a break from the BradMathenyCashBots.
Rangers 15, White Sox 2: Welcome to the big leagues Joey Gallo! We covered the highlights last night here and here. He finished his major league debut with four RBI. The kid has amazing power and has gotten better each year in the minors and he’s going to be something special to watch. He wasn’t the only one kicking butt here, of course — Carlos Corporan drove in five himself — but I feel like this will always be remembered in Texas as “the Joey Gallo Game.”
Nationals 2, Blue Jays 0; Blue Jays 7, Nationals 3: Game 1 featured Jordan Zimmermann shutting down the Jays and the game ending in 2:17. Which adds fuel to my theory that teams intentionally buzz through Game 1 of a doubleheader in order to get more time to chill in between games. Game 2 featured Kevin Pillar hitting two home runs off Max Scherzer. Which adds fuel to my theory that baseball is about the most random thing possible.
Rockies 6, Dodgers 3: Dodgers 9, Rockies 8: Big homers were the order of the day here. First, big in distance — Joc Pederson’s two massive blasts definitely fit that bill — including one in the first game and again in the second game which, went even farther. Or, if you watch that video, “further,” which is Charlie Steiner’s choice of words. But if I remember my schoolin’ accurately, it should be “farther” which is more often used for physical distance while “further” is more often used for figurative journeys. They may be interchangeable, however.
Another homer was big given the moment it was hit: Alex Guerrero’s two-out grand slam in the ninth inning of the nightcap, giving the Dodgers the lead. Which, unlike a lot of leads in Coors Field, held up:
Phillies 5, Reds 4: The Phillies don’t come back late very often — they were 1-30 when trailing after seven coming into this game — but Maikel Franco tied this one in the eighth with a two-run homer and then Darin Ruf hit a walkoff single with one out in the ninth. The only reason Franco got to bat in the eighth was because Jay Bruce lost a liner in the lights that should’ve been out number three. That’s another thing wrong with today’s game. Lights, consarnit! What’s wrong with playing in the daytime! If it was good enough for Rogers Hornsby back in nineteen dickety five, it’s good enough for these whippersnappers!
Athletics 5, Tigers 3: Ben Zobrist hit a grand slam to cap a five-run seventh inning to give the Tigers their fifth loss in a row and their eighth defeat in their past ten games. Look, I know it’s early June and a lot can happen, but I’m starting to get a bad feeling about the Tigers’ chances. I don’t believe in omens and hardly anything that happens in a baseball season can truly be seen as a symbol for anything, but this one feels ominous. Like they’ll look back and say “yeah, that stretch against the Angels and Athletics in June. That’s when we kind of knew we were screwed.”
Red Sox 1, Twins 0: Clay Buchholz (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 8K) only needed one run of support here and he got it via Rusney Castillo’s RBI single in the seventh. Mike Pelfrey was no slouch himself (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER).
Miami Marlins left-hander Brad Hand stood at his locker eager to talk about a rare win, but the clubhouse stereo made conversation impossible, so he just smiled while rapper 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song” blared away.
“I like that song,” Hand said.
Easily the highlight of the Marlins’ season so far.
Indians 2, Royals 1: Michael Brantley hit a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning to break a tie. Off of Wade Davis, no less, who hasn’t been in the business of giving up two-out RBI singles much lately. Brantley probably shouldn’t have made it to the plate, however, as there was a disputed safe call at first on a would-be double play earlier in the inning that both the umpire AND the replay officials blew. Of course, if the Royals scored more than one run off of Carlos Carrasco we’re not even having that conversation.
Astros 6, Orioles 4: Baltimore took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the third, but we play nine around these parts. Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer and Luis Valbuena knocked himself in for the go-ahead run with a solo shot as part of yet another Houston Astros comeback win. Their 17th to be exact, which leads all of baseball.
Cardinals 1, Brewers 0: Lance Lynn tossed shutout ball into the eighth. Fun times: Matt Holliday had his National League record on-base streak halted at 45. In part because he struck out on a bad call from Joe West (shocker) who then proceeded to eject Holliday. Probably would’ve been Holliday’s last plate appearance anyway, but thank goodness we had Joe West around to make sure it ended definitively. People pay to see that master work.
Diamondbacks 7, Braves 6: A see-saw game ended with the Dbacks up high — or down low? How does one “win” at see-saw? — thanks to A.J. Pollock’s two-out, two-run home run in the seventh which landed in the dang swimming pool.
Rays 6, Angels 1: Chris Archer was as dominant as all get-out, striking out 15 in eight innings of work. That tied James Shield’s franchise record. Three of those Ks were of Mike Trout. The lone Angels run came on Albert Pujols’ 534th career homer, which ties him with Jimmie Foxx on the all-time list. The homer also put him past Foxx and Ted Williams on the all-time extra-base hit list.
Padres 7, Mets 2: Noah Syndergaard had allowed only two earned runs in his previous three starts. Had. San Diego lit up the rookie sensation for seven runs on ten hits in four innings. All of which makes me wonder about the choice of headline in ESPN.com’s version of the game story:
Sorry, You do not get to be mentioned in an “Outdueled” headline if you give up seven runs on ten hits in four innings. That’s like saying “ant outduels foot.”
Pirates 7, Giants 4: Remember when Andrew McCutchen started slow? Nah, me neither. Here he had four hits and drove in two runs. He’s now hitting .398 (37-for-93) over his past 26 games, with 11 doubles, a triple, five homers, 21 RBI and 17 runs scored.
There will be some business. I have a couple of non-baseball projects I’m messing around with and I do plan on hitting up a the Rays-Mariners game in Seattle on Saturday night. I may post something at HBT if anything notable happens there, or if some Craig-bait PED story happens. But otherwise I’ll be putting up periodic updates of my trip on Tumblr and Twitter.
D.J., Drew and Bill will be putting up Settling the Scores threads in the mornings. Aaron will be here all day. Please try to find things to be outraged about while I’m gone.
Will Smith’s ejection once again shows baseball’s silly approach to foreign substance rules
But it’s not totally kosher, right? If it was, would Michael Pineda have gotten suspended? If it was, would Fredi Gonzalez have gone out to the umps last night and told them about Smith’s goo? Hardly. Heck, right before the ejection Smith hit a Braves batter with a pitch. Perhaps Smith, therefore, wasn’t really interested in getting a better grip with whatever that goo was? Perhaps Gonzalez was merely suggesting to the umps that they tell Smith to put more goo on his arm and the message was just garbled? English is such an imperfect language for communicating nuance!
That’s the key word here, of course. “Nuance.” Ultimately these situations come down to someone arguing about how it’s totally cool for the pitcher to doctor up the ball, but maybe they shouldn’t be so obvious about it. It’s a standard that, for whatever reason, never ever flies with any other kind of rules violations in baseball. Imagine if it did. “Hey, he may have been taking HGH, but he was doing it to recover from an injury faster, not to get an unfair advantage! Everyone does it, he just took a substance that was too easily-detected. He just shouldn’t have been so obvious about it!” I can tell you from experience, that kind of nuance DOES NOT get you a lot of converts to your cause.
Generally I’m not a fan of “rules are rules” arguments. I think you have to enforce rules when you have them so, for that reason, I have no problem with Will Smith being ejected for his goo and Joe Shlabotnik being suspended 80 games for whatever PEDs are found in his system, even if he says he took them so he can recover from injury more quickly. But it you have rules which everyone ignores for what everyone argues are good reasons, perhaps you need to examine those rules and reassess whether they reflect reality rather than to only enforce them when someone really obviously breaks them. Because if you do the latter, you’re not policing behavior, you’re playing P.R. games.
Alternatively, maybe we should just acknowledge that a lot of people lie about why they break a rule, acknowledge that non-enforcement tends to boil down to an “our guys do it too, so shut up about it” rationale and stamp out this “hey, everyone does it” talk before people start believing it. I’m good either way.
Yankees 6, Orioles 2: Michael Pineda struck out 16 Orioles batters and didn’t walk a one while allowing one run over seven innings. On the season he’s 5-0 with a 2.72 ERA, and 54/3 K/BB ratio in 46 and a third innings. That’s right: he has walked only three batters while striking out over a batter per inning. Yankees win the Jesus Montero trade?
Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3: This is more like how it’s supposed to go: Clay Buchholz pitchers well and Pablo Sandoval homers as the Sox win. Of course this is just the second time the Sox have won in seven of nine and it’s the first time Buchholz has won in six starts. The Red Sox had a clubhouse meeting on Saturday following a bunch of bad play. After the game John Farrell credited the meeting with yesterday’s results, saying “we went out and put together and very good game.” Research project for someone with more time than I have: go back and find every reference to a team having a closed-door meeting in the middle of the season in game stories and then track their collective records over the next 5-10 games and then for the rest of the season. I bet you find, shockingly, that they sort of don’t matter and that bad teams are just bad teams and talent wins and loses more ballgames then motivational meetings. In this way it’s just like your office.
Indians 8, Twins 2: Danny Salazar gave up a leadoff homer to Brian Dozier and then proceeded to retire every single other batter he faced for the next seven innings, striking out 11 of them. I guess that home run . . . motivated him?
Rangers 2, Rays 1: Between his last start and this start Wandy Rodriguez retired 35 straight batters. That’s a perfect game plus eight. We don’t give him credit for that, though, because of the tyranny of the calendar and people’s hangups about arbitrary end-points. You should all really open your minds, man, and throw off the shackles society is making you wear. Or, really man, shackles that you’re putting on yourself. If these comments interest you, I gave a TED-talk on this matter and you can see the video of it here.
Nationals 5, Braves 4: A week into the season the Braves were playing well and the Nationals were not. That dynamic has clearly and definitively reversed itself. Here’s a video representation of the NL East standings.
Agent Smith is the Nationals, obvs, except in our example there are not two horrifyingly bad sequels. There’s just one in which Agent Smith — the far more interesting character played by a far better actor — kicks Neo’s butt pretty soundly and everyone gets to continue living in The Matrix which, you must admit, is way better than that post-apocalyptic hellhole Zion. Reality is overrated.
White Sox 4, Reds 3: The Sox blew a lead in the top of the ninth, allowing the Reds to tie. Then they had to face Aroldis Chapman in the bottom half. Not a great set of circumstances, and the circumstances seemed even more dire as Chapman got two quick outs to start the inning. But then he gave up two straight singles, uncorked a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position. Gordon Beckham then came to the plate and hit a walkoff single. And the best part of this? After the game, Beckham revealed that his mom’s name is “Sully.” That’s gotta be the first “Sully” who isn’t, right now, sitting on a barstool in Massachusetts someplace, explaining away “Deflategate” as a conspiracy against the Patriots because everyone’s jealous of their success.
Mets 7, Phillies 4: Forty-two is the new twenty-seven: Bartolo Colon becomes the majors’ first six game winner this year. He wasn’t necessarily sharp — he gave up a homer to Chad Billingsley for cryin’ out loud — but there’s a lot of margin for error when it comes to facing the Phillies. Also helping: no walks. Indeed, Colon hasn’t walked a batter in over 40 innings.
Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: Jung Ho Kang went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. People wondered if his potent KBL bat would translate in the big leagues. So far so good: .333/.377/.521 in part time play. Mike Matheny described the Cardinals’ day: “Just one of those days we had to try and get what we could. Gave up a few, got `em back, then just couldn’t hold them in the end.” Along with “they whupped our butts,” “everything was workin’ for us” and “we’re happy to have gotten out of there with a win; that’s a good team over there,” that is the exhaustive list of managerial executive game summaries.
Brewers 3, Cubs 2: Martin Maldonado hit a walkoff single in the 11th. Earlier he hit a homer. No word on whether his mom’s name is Sully. Or whatever the Puerto Rican equivalent of Sully is. There probably is. Every region and land has their version of Sully, even if they don’t get the press Sully gets.
Angels 3, Astros 1: Garret Richards was dialing up the heat, hitting his spots and taking a no-hitter into the seventh. He walked some dudes and hit a guy to force in the Astros’ only run, but he struck out ten and looked an awful lot like the guy who led the Angels’ staff until he got hurt at the end of last August.
Giants 3, Marlins 2: Down by one in the bottom of the ninth, the Giants rallied with a single, a double a couple of walks — on intentional, which loaded the bases, the second unintentional to walk in a run — and then Matt Duffy ended it by singling in Gregor Blanco to win the game for San Francisco. The Giants end their homestand having won seven of ten and pull even at .500 on the season. They have 16 wins. Four of them have been walkoffs.
Mariners 4, Athletics 3: Felix Hernandez notched his 2,000th career strikeout. And he just turned 29. Only three guys have gotten to 2,000 Ks at a younger age: Bert Blyleven, Sam McDowell and Walter Johnson. Good company. Hernandez allowed only two runs over seven innings and is now 6-0 on the year with a 1.85 ERA.
Dodgers 9, Rockies 5: They had to clear four inches of snow from Coors Field before the game and the gametime temperature was 41 degrees. It dropped to 39 degrees in the ninth. I have some friends in Denver and they say it’s a lovely place to live, but I feel like the volatile snow-sun-rain-snow-frogs nature of their weather would drive me insane. Adrian Gonzalez hit two doubles and drove in four and the rest of the Dodgers’ offense clicked nicely. Which was good because Clayton Kershaw was once again rather meh. He hasn’t pitched terribly this year, but he certainly hasn’t looked like himself. He stands at 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA. Opponents have a .357 average against him on balls in play. For his career: .274. Things will even out for him, one has to assume.
Diamondbacks 2, Padres 1: Daniel Hudson made his first start since 2012. He didn’t pitch long enough to qualify for the win — he’s not stretched out for that and this was a bullpen game anyway — but he was effective. Nice to see a two-time TJ patient turn things around like Hudson has. Aaron Hill and A.J. Pollock homered.
Royals 2, Tigers 1: The Royals prevailed in the tenth after the game was delayed over an hour and a half in the ninth due to rain. Teams already hate playing Sunday night games because of next-day travel — the Royals are on their way to Texas and probably just got to their hotel rooms in the last hour or so — so I’m sure this one was annoying for all involved. I watched for a few innings. It was annoying to me too, as Curt Schilling and John Kruk are damn nigh unlistenable in the booth. Which is a shame because Dan Shulman is fantastic. ESPN really, really needs to let him fly solo. It’d be so much better.
Two days after firing pitching coach Juan Nieves the Red Sox have decided on a replacement, hiring 54-year-old Carl Willis away from the Indians organization.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that Willis will join the team today, leaving his position as Triple-A pitching coach for the Indians after the Red Sox received permission to interview him.
Willis has been a big-league pitching coach for the Indians and the Mariners, and has experience working with Red Sox manager John Farrell from their time together in Cleveland’s farm system. CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez all won Cy Young awards with Willis as their pitching coach, for whatever that’s worth.
Willis replaces Nieves, who won the World Series in his first season on the job in 2013 and was fired in his third season on the job thanks to Red Sox pitchers having the worst ERA in the league. Willis’ biggest challenge will be turning around a rotation that lacks No. 1/No. 2 starters and currently features ugly ERAs across the board from Rick Porcello (4.38), Justin Masterson (5.18), Joe Kelly (5.72), Clay Buchholz (6.03), and Wade Miley (6.91).