And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 2: Eight wins for Mark Buehrle, seven straight losses for the Boston Red Sox and, get this, the Toronto Blue Jays are in first place in the American League East as we enter Memorial Day weekend. Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista each had homers.

Rangers 9, Tigers 2: The Rangers season is collapsing in injury but they still have Yu Darvish and the Tigers are still suffering from the Curse of the Zubaz. Darvish allowed two runs over seven innings and Rangers hitters beat the snot out of Robbie Ray.

Marlins 4, Phillies 3: Christian Yelich hit a two-out, bases-loaded RBI single to walk the Marlins off with a win. Or, I think it walked the Phillies off. That’s what Dennis Eckersley was referring to when he coined the term, I believe. The losing team walking off the field in defeat as opposed to running back to the dugout like they would following any but the final innings. Then again, usage can often change words and phrases from their original or intended meaning, so maybe it doesn’t matter?

Rays 5, Athletics 2: Grant Balfour couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead in the ninth, but then Dan Otero and Luke Gregerson couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead in the 11th, so that canceled out. Sorta. Kinda. I don’t know. All I know is that it set the stage for a three-run walkoff jack for Sean Rodriguez in the bottom of the 11th. That ended a four-game losing streak for the Rays and a five-game winning streak for the A’s.

Cardinals 4, Diamondbacks 2: The sweep. Shane Robinson was was called up yesterday and went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored. And his “just got called up from the minors” cliches are as sharp as a tack:

“It was a good feeling to be able to get in there and help out the club and get a win tonight,” Robinson said. “I’m just feeling blessed to be up here.”

Crash Davis couldn’t have instructed him any better.

Mets 5, Dodgers 3: The Mets do what very few teams have been able to do this year, and that’s get to Zack Greinke. Well, to the extent he really can be got to anyway. Three runs — one earned — and four hits. But the key was that they made him work, chasing him after 101 pitches in five innings. Jonathon Niese hit an RBI double to [altogether now] help his own cause. He also pitched seven sharp innings. Yasiel Puig made an amazing catch. He also got doubled off second on an infield fly. The Puig giveth, the Puig taketh away.

White Sox 3, Yankees 2: Chris Sale came back from the DL and took a no-hitter into the sixth. He left the game after six having allowed only one hit, no runs, no walks and striking out 10. Yeah, I think he’s gonna be just fine.

Braves 5, Brewers 4: The Braves rallied after being down 4-1 in the sixth thanks to two improbable things: (1) a B.J. Upton home run; and (2) Brewers manager Ron Roenicke screwing up and calling Will Smith in to the game when he hadn’t been warming up in the bullpen. He got his eight warmup pitches on the field but then gave up a two-run RBI single to Ryan Doumit. I feel like some savvy telecom company could make a decent add involving bullpen phones out of this if they wanted to.

Pirates 3, Nationals 1: Mark Melancon put two runners on in the ninth and then allowed a sinking liner by Anthony Rendon. Thankfully Andrew McCutchen was there to make a sliding grab to end the game. The MVP had two RBI too.

Indians 8, Orioles 6: The third extra innings game in four games for the Indians. Third win in those four extra innings game too, and a four-game winning streak overall. Carlos Santana played the hero here with a two-run double in the 13th. It was a big hole for Terry Francona’s group to dig out of, but they’ve moved a lot of dirt in the past four days.

Cubs 5, Padres 1: A homer and a double for former Padre Anthony Rizzo. Jake Arrieta allowed only one run and four hits, striking out seven and walking only one. The Padres have played 48 games. In 15 of them they have scored one or zero runs.

Mariners 3, Astros 1: Michael Saunders legged out an infield single with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, driving in two runs in what was then a 1-1 game. The play was reviewed on replay but upheld.

Giants 2, Rockies 2: SUSPENDED: At some point later this year they’ll complete this one, picking up where they left off: tied up in the sixth with two outs and Michael Cuddyer on first. Unless Cuddyer dies in a zeppelin accident or something before the game resumes, in which case they’ll use someone else. Which will make that the most somber pinch running experience ever, even if it makes for one of the more interesting Jayson Stark factoid columns ever written.

Lou Whitaker snubbed from the Hall of Fame again

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
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Long time Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker has long been one of baseball history’s most underrated players. He and Hall of Fame shortstop Alan Trammell formed one of the best up-the-middle combos ever, teammates since Whitaker’s debut in 1977 to his final year in 1995.

Trammell is actually a great jumping-off point to support Whitaker’s candidacy. Here are their career counting stats:

  • Whitaker: .276/.363/.426, 420 doubles, 65 triples, 244 homers, 1084 RBI, 1386 runs, 143 stolen bases, 1197 walks (9967 plate appearances)
  • Trammell: .285/.352/.415, 415 doubles, 55 triples, 185 homers, 1003 RBI, 1231 runs, 236 stolen bases, 850 walks (9376 plate appearances)

Whitaker also had slightly more Wins Above Replacement over his career according to Baseball Reference, besting Trammell 75.1 to 70.7. FanGraphs’ version of WAR puts both players slightly lower but with Whitaker still in the lead, 68.1 to 63.7.

Trammell, like Whitaker, did not make the Hall of Fame through initial eligibility on the ballot voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, beginning five years after their retirement. Trammell was elected two years ago on the Modern Era ballot. Whitaker fell off the ballot in his only year of eligibility, earning just 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001. Whitaker was again snubbed on Sunday night, receiving just six of the 12 votes necessary for induction. Trammell became eligible on the BBWAA ballot in 2002 and had a 15-year run, with his support running as far down as 13.4 percent in 2007 and peaking at 40.9 percent in his final year in 2016.

Trammell and Whitaker critics cited things like never leading the league in any important categories and never winning an MVP Award as reasons why they shouldn’t be enshrined. That last reason, of course, ignores that both contributed to the Tigers winning the World Series in 1984, but I digress.

Trammell should have been elected to the Hall of Fame on the BBWAA ballot. And, since the distinction matters to so many people, he should have been inducted on the first ballot. Among Hall of Fame shortstops (at least 50 percent of their games at the position), Trammell has the eighth-highest WAR among 21 eligible players. He has ever so slightly more WAR than Barry Larkin (70.4), who made it into the Hall of Fame in his third year of eligibility with 86.4 percent of the vote.

Now, what about Whitaker? Among Hall of Fame second basemen (at least 50 percent of games at the position), Whitaker’s 75.1 WAR would rank sixth among 20 eligible second basemen. The only second basemen ahead of him are Rogers Hornsby (127.0), Eddie Collins (124.0), Nap Lajoie (107.4), Joe Morgan (100.6), and Charlie Gehringer (80.7). Whitaker outpaces such legendaries as Ryne Sandberg (68.0), Roberto Alomar (67.1), and Craig Biggio (65.5). Sandberg made it into the Hall in his third year on the ballot; Alomar his second; Biggio his third.

Among the players on the 2001 BBWAA ballot, the only player with more career WAR than Whitaker was Bert Blyleven (94.4), who eventually made it into the Hall of Fame. Dave Winfield (64.2) and Kirby Puckett (51.1) were elected that year. Also receiving hefty support that year were Gary Carter (70.1 WAR), Jim Rice (47.7), Bruce Sutter (24.1), and Goose Gossage (41.2) and each would eventually make the Hall of Fame.

WAR is not, by any means, a perfect stat, so the WAR argument may not resonate with everyone. Dating back to 1871, there have been only 66 players who hit at least 400 doubles and 200 home runs while stealing 100 bases. The only second basemen (same 50 percent stipulation) to do that are Whitaker, Hornsby, Morgan, Sandberg, Alomar, Biggio, Chase Utley, and Ian Kinsler. Additionally, Whitaker drew more walks than strikeouts over his career, 1197 to 1099. The only second basemen to do that while hitting at least 200 career homers are Whitaker, Morgan, Hornsby, Bobby Doerr, and Joe Gordon.

Whitaker was not without accolades: he won the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year Award. He was a five-time All-Star and took home four Silver Sluggers along with three Gold Gloves to boot. Trammell took home a similar amount of hardware: though he never won a Rookie of the Year Award, he did make the All-Star team six times. He went on to win four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers.

In a just world, Whitaker would have been on the ballot for the then-maximum 15 years. In a sentimentally just world, he would have gone in side-by-side with Trammell in 2002. Whitaker’s candidacy certainly shouldn’t have fallen to the Modern Era ballot, and it shouldn’t have been further fumbled by a committee that gave him as many votes as Steve Garvey.