And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 12, White Sox 3:  Well, I was supposed to be at this one.  Instead, my 9:30 AM flight to New York turned into a 12:08 PM flight which then turned into a 3:30 PM flight through Philly, which then turned into a 5:17 PM flight through Philly that was highly unlikely to allow me to make the connection to New York at all last night, let alone in time to see the ballgame. So I made the decision any wise man would make: I called my mom, had her pick me up from the airport and drive me back home so I could at least sleep in my own bed rather than some Philadelphia Ramada Inn.  Not that I ever got too mad or complained too greatly. The same storm system that mildly inconvenienced me killed hundreds the day before so, no, complaining was not exactly the order of the day. OK, some very mild, perspective-laden complaining. But I felt guilty about it afterward.

As you’re reading this on Friday morning I am (cross my fingers!) en route to New York, this time for real. It’s a flight so early that — apologies — this edition of ATH is a slightly truncated one. I’ll be sure to refund your money at my earliest convenience.

As for the Yankees-Sox game: this was one of the more Edwin Jackson starts you’ll ever see. He had a no-hitter going for a while but was still down 2-0. Then it went downhill because Edwin Jackson basically has no idea where the ball is going. 91 pitches in four innings. Quite the trick.

Giants 5, Pirates 2: The species known as Ryan Vogelsongia displays a combination of long life cycles, a seven-year periodicity, and mass emergences. They are closely-related to locusts, but they are not locusts at all, as locusts belong to the order Orthoptera. The nymphs of Ryan Vogelsongia live underground at depths of 30 cm or more, feeding on the juices of plant roots. They stay immobile and go through five development stages before constructing an exit tunnel in the spring of their 7th year, at which time they give up two runs on four hits while striking out eight in five and two-thirds innings.

Rays 15, Twins 3; Rays 6, Twins 1: Ben Zobrist certainly ate his Wheaties yesterday. Eight RBI in the first game and another two in the nightcap.

Indians 8, Royals 2: The Royals sent the worst regular starting pitcher in the history of baseball out to face the first place Indians and achieved the expected results.

Blue Jays 5, Rangers 2: It was a 2-2 tie from the third inning on, but then Darren Oliver got knocked around in the ninth. If you can call having Corey Patterson lay down a bunt RBI single and having Adrian Beltre and Oliver combine for the most confusing and ugly-looking two-run, two-error play you’ll ever see “being knocked around.” The Jays take three of four from Texas.

Mariners 7, Tigers 2: I watched some of this on the laptop while hating life at the airport.  Michael Pineda has seriously nasty stuff. He’s going to throw a no-hitter someday. Or strike out 18 dudes or something.

Red Sox 6, Orioles 2: Jon Lester’s mastery of Baltimore continues. A 3 for 5, 2 RBI day for Adrian Gonzalez, who is starting to heat up.

Nationals 4, Mets 3: The Mets’ winning streak ends as Livan Hernandez hangs ’em out to dry for eight innings. Like he as some kind of launderer or something.

Cardinals 11, Astros 7: Five RBI for Lance Berkman against his old team. Take that, Milo Hamilton.

Diamondbacks 11, Cubs 2: Ryan Dempster lasted one-third on an inning. Gave up seven runs in that time.  Yikes.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.