And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Braves 4, Mets 1: Johan Santana struck out 11 Braves, but they nickled
and dimed him for three runs in the first and then Chipper Jones knocked
one out off him in the seventh. Chipper’s career may be on death’s
door, but he could wake up in 2027 and hit a home run off the Mets. It’s
just what he does. And you bet your bippy I have this one first with a pic of Jones hitting the bomb because it will drive Mets fans nuts.

Rays 4, Twins 2: Jeremy Hellickson gets called up, makes his major
league debut, allows two runs on three hits over seven innings while
beating one of the hottest teams in baseball and then is promptly sent
right back down to Durham. I bet he’ll be on a bus this afternoon,
telling the other Durham Bulls about how you never handle your luggage
in the
show, somebody else carries your bags. About how you hit white
balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the
hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and
brains.

Indians 6, Red Sox 5: I’m not linking to video of Carlos Santana’s knee injury, nor do I even want to think about it. I watched the play once — won’t watch it again — and I couldn’t tell based on my one viewing of it if Santana was out of position or messed up in the way he took that throw. All I can think is about how, as I watched him hit multiple times in Columbus this year and once in Cleveland, that the guy was born to have a bat in his hands but never looked quite right behind the plate. I hope he makes it back and proves me wrong next year.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 6: An ineffective A.J. Burnett watched the Jays make like the Gashouse Gorillas and do a conga line around the bases in the fifth inning and Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 5, but I’m sure this was somehow Joba Chamberlain’s fault. Six doubles for the Jays in that 5th inning, by the way, two of which came off the bat of Travis Snider.

Reds 4, Pirates 0: Travis Wood toyed with the Buccos, shutting them out on two hits over seven innings. Miguel Cairo continues to play decidedly un-Miguel Cairolike baseball, getting two RBI and keeping his average at a cool .300 on the season.

Brewers 18, Cubs 1: I accidentally closed out of the page with the box score so I can’t be 100% certain, but I’m pretty sure this one ended with the mercy rule being applied in the fourth inning and Lou Piniella talking his players out for ice cream afterwards, telling them that the point of the game is to simply try your best.

Astros 9, Cardinals 4: I didn’t watch any of this game, but based only on the box score I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Tony La Russa overthought the matchups with his bullpen and once again pulled his best reliever out of the game in order to go with an inferior one that God Almighty himself wouldn’t put into the game in that situation. If that’s what happened, I’ll take it one step further and guess that La Russa did not accept any responsibility over this afterward and instead said something like “God Almighty doesn’t have access to my super secret pitching charts and assorted genius goodies.”  Welcome to St. Louis, Jake Westbrook (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7K).

Athletics 6, Royals 0: If you polled 100 casual baseball fans I wonder how many of them would be able to tell you the first thing about Trevor Cahill. Whether it’s because he’s on the west coast or because he’s an Athletic I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the number is small. A shame too, because the kid is something else. He three-hit the Royals last night, moving to 11-4 on the season and lowering his ERA to 2.72.

Padres 10, Dodgers 5: Chase Headley had four hits including a three-run bomb and Will Venable homered and drove in four. The Dodgers matched the Padres in the hit department with 14, but hit into double plays, stranded runners and generally played like a team that looked like it’s nine games out of first place. Which it is.

Nationals 3, Diamondbacks 1: I’m trying to think of anything more annoying for an opposing fanbase than to have the local nine get totally flummoxed by Livan Hernandez but I can’t think of a thing. He just throws his slop up there and — when the slop is working — you just can’t do anything with it despite it looking like you should be able to totally crush the guy. It was working last night (7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5K).

Hunter Strickland says he doesn’t have an anger problem

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Giants closer Hunter Strickland struggled in the ninth inning Monday against the Marlins, surrendering three runs en route to a 5-4 loss. Strickland took issue with Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, who tied the game with a single and celebrated as he rounded first base. When Strickland was yanked from the game, Brinson was on third base, so Strickland had some parting words on his way to the dugout. Then, in the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger, breaking his pitching hand. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result.

Strickland posted to his Instagram on Tuesday, taking responsibility for his actions. He wrote, “To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal.”

Speaking to the media for the first time since breaking his hand, Strickland said (via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports), “I don’t think I have an anger problem, but sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me.”

Well, if that emotion is anger, and you let it get the best of you, then you have an anger problem. This isn’t an isolated incident.

In the 2014 NLDS against the Nationals, Bryce Harper had Strickland’s number. In Game 1, Harper hit a solo home run ioff of Strickland, putting the Nationals on the board trailing 3-1. Strickland gave up another home run to Harper in Game 4 which tied the game at 2-2. Though the distance made it a no-doubt home run, the ball went down the right field line, so Harper was watching the ball in the air and didn’t immediately run the bases, which irked Strickland. The Giants still went on to win the game and advance to the NLCS, but Strickland carried the grudge with him into the 2017 season. The 2017 season! It just so happened that Strickland never faced Harper at all in the 2015-16 seasons, which makes sense because the two clubs only meet for two series per season and Strickland only pitches one inning per game if he gets into one.

The Nationals and Giants met in San Francisco at the end of May last year. In the first game of the series, Strickland entered with the Giants trailing 2-0 in the eighth inning. He got two quick outs, bringing up Harper for their first meeting since Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS. With his first pitch, Strickland nailed harper on the hip with a 98 MPH fastball. Harper didn’t like it, so he charged the mound and the two threw punches at each other as the benches and bullpens spilled onto the field.

In the 2014 World Series, Strickland had a beef with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Strickland gave up a double to Perez, then a two-run home run to Omar Infante. As Perez crossed home plate, Strickland started yelling at Perez. He appeared to yell, “Get in the dugout, boy.” The term “boy” carries a racist connotation when used by white people towards men of color. It’s unclear why Strickland was upset with Perez, but Perez said Strickland started jawing at him when he was on second base after hitting his double.

So here’s what we know about Strickland:

  • He gets angry when players look at their home run balls in the air, even if that player is unsure if it will stay fair
  • He gets angry if you get a double off of him in an important game
  • He gets angry when players pump their fists and yell in celebration after getting a big hit in the regular season
  • He gets angry a lot
  • He sometimes gets violent when he’s angry

Short of hitters not showing any emotion at all and not getting hits off of him, it’s not clear what kind of behavior satisfies Strickland and won’t make him angry. So, essentially, anything a batter does could potentially set Strickland off. I’d call that an anger problem. If this weren’t in the context of sports, Strickland’s behavior would be problematic.

Strickland’s behavior doesn’t come off as particularly unique because he’s far from the only player to injure himself punching something in anger. He’s far from the only player to get ticked off when batters get a hit off him and celebrate. This anger is part of baseball culture, part of sports culture at large, and embedded in masculinity — what it means to be a man. We teach men, particularly athletes, to repress a wide range of emotions. As a result, many men resort first to anger — one of the few emotions we allow men to express openly — when dealing with any type of adversity.

If Strickland were a well-adjusted person with high emotional intelligence, he would realize that throwing a baseball close to 100 at someone with the intent to injure them is not a good way to resolve a conflict. Strickland could have gone to the Marlins’ clubhouse after the game and had a level-headed chat with Brinson, saying, “I felt embarrassed and emasculated when you got a hit off of me and celebrated the way you did. Perhaps in the future, you could tone it down.” But we don’t teach men and allow them to discuss and express their emotions in healthy ways, so Strickland lashes out at Harper and Perez and Brinson instead.