And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

60 Comments

Astros 9, Royals 2: George Springer is figuring it out and the results are pretty damn impressive. The Astros’ rookie homered in his fourth straight game while going 4 for 4 with two doubles, three RBI, a walk, and five runs scored.

Orioles 7, Brewers 6: Jonathan Schoop hit two homers and Nick Hundley singled in the go-ahead run in the 10th. In other news, I totally missed that the Orioles had acquired Nick Hundley. In my defense I had a healthy amount of bourbon over Memorial Day weekend. If the trade happened before then it’s because I never read Gleeman’s posts. He knows what he did.

Marlins 3, Nationals 2: Giancarlo Stanton went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer and Nathan Eovaldi was solid. To the extent you subscribe to the idea that Memorial Day is the time when you no longer dismiss unexpected results with “it’s early, but  . . .” know that it’s the day after Memorial Day and the Marlins are two games out of first place and two games over .500.

Pirates 5, Mets 3: The Mets bullpen blows a three-run lead in the eighth and ninth by surrendering five runs, three of which came courtesy of Gaby Sanchez hits, four of which were given up by Jose Valverde. Who, immediately after the game, became a former Met. ‘E’s not pinin’, ‘E’s passed on! This Met is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s been released and gone to meet ‘is agent! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of a job. ‘Is pitching processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s shuffled off ‘is active roster, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ bullpen invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-MET!!

Red Sox 8, Braves 6: Clay Buchholz walked eight dudes and gave up six runs in three innings. And man, walking Braves hitters is not easy. His teammates bailed him out, though, with a David Ortiz three-run blast capping a five-run rally to tie things up in the fifth and six innings of shutout work from the Sox’ pen. With that, the Red Sox finally snap their ugly losing streak. Even with the ugly seeping into the first three innings of this one.

Athletics 10, Tigers 0: A five-homer day for the A’s, including a Derek Norris grand slam. All of which is rich given that before the game Bob Melvin told his players to “grind” and not try to hit homers. The lesson here: screw that noise. Homers are awesome. They’re literally the best thing you can do while batting. That’s not my opinion. That’s an inescapable fact of baseball’s rules and scoring system. More homers. Hit ’em all the damn time!

Rangers 7, Twins 2: You write a team’s epitaph after it loses a couple of players for the year and then they go and win three straight and five of six. Remember: no one knows anything about anything in this friggin’ game. Even the fancy, self-proclaimed experts who write and talk about baseball for major media conglomerates. Especially the fancy, self-proclaimed experts who write and talk about baseball for major media conglomerates. We’re the worst.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

White Sox 6, Indians 2: Conor Gillaspie had four hits — three of them doubles — drove in one run and scored another. He’s also 24 for his last 59 over the past 16 games.

Cubs 8, Giants 4: Jeff Samardzija finally got his first win of the season following a ten-strikeout performance. This sorta bums me out. I mean, on the one hand it’s great that he finally got a modicum of run support after to many tough luck outings. On the other hand I was really looking forward to a zero-win pitcher starting the All-Star game.

Phillies 9, Rockies 0: Ryan Howard was 3 for 4 and drove in five. Here come the Philly fan readers who have gone silent for the past two years to argue about the guy’s contract not being so bad. They’ll retreat to the darkness again in a couple of days.

Diamondbacks 7, Padres 5: A.J. Pollock hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth for the walkoff win. And we finally have a definitive answer to who is being walked off when this sort of thing happens. Here’s Kirk Gibson after the game:

“We were standing there and we were saying `Let’s walk them off, let’s walk them off,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said, “and he crushed the ball.”

Given that he hit perhaps the most definitive walkoff homer in history, I think Gibson gets to have the final word.

Mariners 5, Angels 1: Robinson Cano had three hits, drove in two and is hitting .332. Chris Young had a no hitter into the sixth and a shutout into the seventh.

Dodgers 4, Reds 3Hyun-Jin Ryu was perfect over the first seven innings before Todd Frazier led off the eighth with a double. So much for that. And so much for the shutout and stuff as the Reds scored three that innings. All three runs were charged to Ryu, but two of them scored thanks to Brian Wilson not being able to put out the fire all that effectively. But that’s all the Reds could do and the Dodgers held on for the win.

Blue Jays 10, Rays 5: That’s seven straight for the Jays thanks to another Edwin Encarnacion homer and a generalized offensive outburst. Dioner Navarro and Steve Tolleson had back to back homers and Melky Cabrera had three hits and three RBI too. Back to that Memorial Day comment: it ain’t too early anymore and the Jays are a couple of games ahead in the AL East.

Yankees 6, Cardinals 4: Brett Gardner had a leaping grab in the 11th to deprive Yadier Molina of either a homer or extra bases and then Brian Roberts came up big in the 12th with a bases-loaded single. I may be mangling this stat — I saw it on Twitter yesterday and can’t find it this morning — but I think this was only the 35th all-time game between the Yankees and the Cardinals, including World Series games. Which on the one hand is kind of understandable given that interleague hasn’t been around that long and for the bulk of it interleague was about divisional matchups, thus the two were not often pit against one another. On the other hand, the mental imagine I have of baseball history has the Yankees and Cardinals defining much of mid-century baseball history. Though I know better when I actually go year-by-year and think of who played in the World Series, I think of Yankees-Cardinals matchups as happening almost as much as Yankees-Dodgers matchups. Oh well.

MLB and the MLBPA are discussing opioid testing. This seems like the wrong move.

Getty Images
3 Comments

Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported this morning that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are in discussions that could lead to the creation of a testing regime for opioids. This, obviously, comes in the wake of the July 1 death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs and this past weekend’s report detailing his opioid use. Opioid use that was done with the knowledge and participation of at least one high-ranking Angels front office official.

Currently the Joint Drug Agreement does not provide testing for opioids, or other drugs classified as “Drugs of Abuse,” by Major Leaguers. Rather, if teams and/or the league become aware of a player’s problem with a Drug of Abuse, it is to be reported to the league which, in turn, refers the player to a treatment program. The purpose is to treat, not punish, a player for his addiction. If and only if the player repeatedly fails to cooperate or comply with a treatment program does discipline come into play. The talks to implement testing, therefore, would mark a major change in the JDA, both in structure and in overall philosophy when it comes to Drugs of Abuse.

It would also be a bad move in my view.

Based on how testing for Drugs of Abuse has gone in the minor leagues, a major league Drugs of Abuse testing regime will lead to the singling out of addicts for punishment. That could, in turn, discourage addicts from seeking the help they can theoretically get now under the JDA. We’ve seen this in broader society, of course. Drug addiction is rarely addressed effectively via punishment of users. It can be addressed by getting them treatment and examining and addressing the root causes of addiction and the sources of the drugs in question.

It also seems to ignore the very circumstances that led to Tyler Skaggs’ death.

Skaggs had an opioid problem. It was not some big secret. And, of course, at least one of the people who knew about it was a high-ranking front office employee of the Angels, Eric Kay. Under the Joint Drug Agreement Kay, and by extension the Angels, had an affirmative responsibility to report Skaggs’ drug use to the league, which would then get him into a treatment program. The club failed in its duties in this regard. If it hadn’t — if the system in place had been adhered to — there is a chance that Skaggs could’ve gotten the help that could’ve saved his life. It’s worth asking why, given that there was a reasonable and easily-implemented means of addressing Skaggs’ problem already in existence, the question is now “how should we go about adding more drug testing for players?” as opposed to “how should MLB punish the Angels for their violation of the JDA and ensure that it doesn’t happen again?”

To acknowledge that failure — to acknowledge that there were procedures in place that could very well have prevented this tragic outcome that went unused — and then to say that the solution is to put it back on the users themselves in a testing and discipline regime — seems nonsensical to me. And that’s not just from the perspective of “hey, the team should’ve done something, so it’s on them.”

The point of drug testing is to find out something that is not known (i.e. whether someone is using drugs). Skaggs’ case suggests to us that the issue is not about obliviousness. Yes, some addicts will go to great lengths to hide their addiction, but opioid use by big leaguers is not a secret inside the game. Rather, based on conversations I’ve recently had with MLB insiders, it is seen as and is often portrayed internally as “recreational.” This is not out of disingenuousness or out of some motive to hide a problem. Rather, there appears to be a genuine ignorance about the issue.

Yes, in some cases it’s about people in a position to help either not being willing to help, as was the case with the Angels, but more commonly it’s about them not truly understanding the nature or seriousness of opioid addiction. It’s not about them not having a positive test result in their hands in order to act. It’s not about outsourcing the problem to MLB when people in a far better position to observe problems and reach out with assistance — teammates and team officials who are around the player all day, every day, for months on end — could do more if better educated, better informed and better incentivized to provide help to players in need.

Based on people in and around the game I have spoken with over the past few days, the problem of addiction inside the game mirrors what’s going on in the country as a whole. As we’ve seen with the country as a whole, going after users is not an effective means of combating opioid addiction. That Major League Baseball and the MLBPA seem intent on making their first step in the wake of Skaggs’ death one in the direction of drug testing seems like a misstep to me.