And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 7, Reds 4: The Braves weren’t going to be able to maintain any sort of momentum if the offense was all Justin Upton — who can’t do it alone — and Evan Gattis — who is, after all, a rookie. Last night they had help from Andrelton Simmons who hit two bombs and drove in four.

White Sox 2, Royals 1: James Shields was brilliant for eight innings. Ned Yost didn’t let him come out for the ninth, though, going with his closer with a 1-0 lead. His closer blew it and eventually the Royals lost the game. Yost’s explanation for why he didn’t send Shields out to finish his shutout:

“Everybody has their job to do and Shields had done his,” Yost said. “He threw eight shutout innings. It was a one-run game. The runs make all the difference. If it was a two-run or a three-run lead, yeah. But in a one-run game, (if) you send him out he’s either going to win it or lose it. You let the closer go out and try to do his job.”

It’d be one thing to simply sit back and second guess Yost. If it had worked, great. But that explanation would be brain dead even if Greg Holland had struck out the side and gotten the save. Yost is clearly saying here that he’s letting bullpen roles dictate his moves. He has a closer, dadgummit, and he’s going to let him close. It’d be one thing if Shields was tired. Or if the guys coming up had historic success against Shields and he didn’t want to press his luck. But no, Yost’s thinking is “you use this guy in the ninth inning and it is the ninth inning, so …” Which is just enraging.

Cubs 9, Rangers 2: Scott Feldman threw seven scoreless against his old teammates. He came out though due to a cramp in his hand. Not because Ned Yost called Dale Sveum and told him he should go with this eighth inning guy.

Indians 7, Athletics 3: Man, Mark Reynolds hit that one a long, long way. It was his 10th homer. He’s now hitting .296/.363/.622.

Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 2: I wonder if, on a mutual off day, Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia go boat shopping together. Trevor Cahill allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. Also had a two-run triple.

Red Sox 6, Twins 5: Minnesota had a 3-0 lead at one point but the Sox chipped away, scoring one run in every inning between the fourth and the eighth. Then Stephen Drew, who had four hits on the night, hit a walkoff double with two outs in the 11th. Clay Buchholz gave up four runs on seven hits in four innings and his forearm wasn’t glistening nearly as much in this game. Hurm.

Padres 5, Marlins 0: I guess the 14 runs the Marlins scored on Sunday were meant to last them for the week. Andrew Cashner shut ’em out into the eighth inning for his longest start of his career.

Blue Jays 8, Rays 7: Toronto was down 7-0 after three and had pulled to within two by the ninth. Then came a two-run, two-out homer from J.P. Arencibia off Fernando Rodney, who was trying for a five-out save. Maybe someone should have called Ned Yost and talked about what the closer’s job description was. Colby Rasmus and Mark DeRosa also hit two-run homers.

Phillies 6, Giants 2: Cliff Lee was solid for eight innings, Michael Young had three hits and drove in two and this, dadgummit, is how it was supposed to look for Philly. The Giants’ win streak ends at six.

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.