And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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White Sox 15, Royals 5: Ladies and gentlemen: your first place Chicago White Sox.  Chicago has made up 10 games since June 9th, going from 9.5 out to .5 up. Without question, the most unexpected surge of the year. Yes, they had help from the Twins and, to a lesser extent, the Tigers’ poor play, but Ozzie Guillen’s squad is on fire. It has to kill them to be taking four days off right now, but it’s a break they’ve earned even if it’s one they don’t want.

Twins 6, Tigers 3: Which of these two are going to get it together and chase down the White Sox? I still like Minnesota overall. Maybe this win heading into the break will turn their heads around. Awful last week or so, though, no question about it.

Mets 3, Braves 0: Johan Santana pitches his second gem in a row, shutting out the Bravos over seven. It was merely a series-salvager, however, as the Mets dropped two of three to Atlanta over the weekend. Carlos Beltran comes back on Thursday, and we’ll see if that’s enough to launch New York forward.

Cardinals 4, Astros 2: What, Jeff Bagwell taking over as hitting coach didn’t bring immediate dividends? You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that firing Sean Berry and replacing him with a team legend was just a P.R./scapegoat move. Wait, forget I said anything. That’s just crazy talk.

Phillies 1, Reds 0: A four game sweep of a good team heading into the break has to give the Phillies some amount of relief after a roller coaster first half. Still — and not to take a thing away from Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, who pitched Saturday’s and yesterday’s gems, respectively — Philly needs to figure out how to score some freakin’ runs, and fast.

Yankees 8, Mariners 2: The Yankees won it easily but anonymous front
office sources later said that the way the Mariners played was
totally bush league
that it was horsesh– that they had to
split the gate
.

Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: Dice-K allowed two runs and six hits, pitching into the seventh, while walking none and
striking out five. Only threw 88 pitches too.  I think the guy is totally schizophrenic, though, so next time look for 97 pitches (42 strikes, 55 balls) in, like, four innings.

Brewers 6, Pirates 5: Milwaukee went down 3-0 in the second, tied it up, went down 4-3 in the sixth, tied it up and then went down 5-4 in the ninth and won it on a two-run walkoff homer from Corey Hart.  Like I said in the Power Rankings not too long ago: Milwaukee has had a bad first half, but unlike some other teams in dire straits, they’ve never looked or felt like they were packing things in.

Rays 6, Indians 5: Walkoff RBI single for Jason Bartlett as the Rays take three of four from Cleveland and hit the break on a roll. Cleveland walked ten dudes, and you’re just not going to win doing that.

Marlins 2, Diamondbacks 0: Your standard six-pitchers-combine-for-a-shutout shutout. More amazing than the Marlins’ pen combining to keep Arizona off the board, however, was the fact that the Arizona bullpen threw four shutout innings of its own. That’s equivalent to like 40 real bullpen innings.

Padres 9, Rockies 7: San Diego salvages one of the three-game series in order to stay two up of the red hot Rockies and the less-hot-but-still-chugging Dodgers. A Matt Belisle throwing error on a comebacker allowed the Padres to go ahead in the eighth and Heath Bell got the five-out save to ice it.

Athletics 5, Angels 2: Trevor Cahill, the A’s starter in this one, was replaced on the All-Star roster by Jered
Weaver, the Angels starter in this one. But . . . since he can’t pitch on Tuesday either, he was replaced by A’s reliever Andrew Bailey who also pitched in this one. He’s a reliever though, so I guess that’s cool.  Weaver’s contract calls for a $50K bonus for making the All-Star team, by the way, and I assume he gets it for the 11 seconds he was on the squad. I’m picturing Angels owner Arte Moreno sitting in his office with a rather dazed look on his face right now.

Orioles 4, Rangers 1: The Orioles take four straight from the Rangers, which included some long balls on Saturday to render Cliff Lee’s Texas debut an ignominious one. Baltimore’s season may be a loss from a horse race perspective, but there’s a lot of pride to be regained and — let’s face it — some good old fashioned spoilin’ to be done. The Orioles are a more talented team than their record suggests. Maybe they can at least make the most of a bad situation.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 0: I can’t decide if that little 55 mile per hour
eephus/curve/whatever it is pitch Vicente Padilla throws is totally
annoying or the coolest thing ever. I mean, I like garbage pitches like
that as a matter of course. But I can’t enjoy watching Padilla do it for
some reason. Still, it was effective as all get out last night.

Giants 6, Nationals 2: Three RBI for Travis Ishikawa, who has been raking since the Molina trade, which gave him a chance to get out of the pinch hitting role. Since then the Giants have been scoring runs by the bucketful too. Coincidence, I think not.

Marlins, Giants get into heated beanball war

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You may have heard that Giants closer Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door in frustration after Monday night’s subpar performance. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result. Strickland came in to protect a 4-2 lead but ended up giving up three runs. The tying run was knocked in by Lewis Brinson on a single to right field. Brinson moved to third base on a go-ahead single by Miguel Rojas, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to take Strickland out of the game.

On his way to the dugout, Strickland started chirping at Brinson. Much like Bryce Harper and Strickland, Brinson and Strickland have a bit of a history. Last Thursday, Brinson handed Strickland a blown save with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brinson was happy to help his team tie the game, pumping his fast and saying, “Let’s go” at no one in particular. That rubbed Strickland the wrong way. Everything seems to rub Strickland the wrong way.

During Tuesday night’s game, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez threw at Brinson with the first pitch, a 92 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher issued warnings to both benches. Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue, suggesting that his team hadn’t done anything wrong so it was unfair to essentially take the inside part of the plate away from his pitchers. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly could be seen saying, “You’re next” to catcher Buster Posey.

The Giants scored twice in the bottom of the second against Dan Straily to extend their lead to 3-0. Posey came to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. Straily hit Posey with a 91 MPH fastball on the first pitch, prompting ejections of both Straily and Mattingly. Posey was hit on the arm. If the pitch had come in a bit lower and hit Posey on the wrist or hand, Posey might have had to go on the disabled list for a couple months. Or if the pitch had hit Posey a couple of inches higher, in the head, then who knows what would have happened.

Things calmed down from there, thankfully. The two clubs have one more game against each other in San Francisco on Wednesday and that will be the final time they meet this season. If anything further is going to happen — and hopefully, nothing happens — then it will come tomorrow.

Straily will almost certainly be facing a suspension and a fine, as will Mattingly. It’s less clear if Rodriguez and/or Bochy will be reprimanded for throwing at Brinson, even though it was fairly obvious the pitch was intentional. Regardless, the punishments amount to just one missed start for the pitchers, which isn’t nearly enough of a detriment to deter beanball wars.