And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Diamondbacks 4, Reds 0: Josh Collmenter with the three-hit shutout. And not just a shutout, but a Maddux, as he needed only 94 pitches to do it, while facing the minimum 27 hitters. The only other Dback who has gone a whole game while facing the minimum was Randy Johnson who did it while pitching a perfect game. Aaron Hill had a homer and an RBI single in support.

Mets 4, Phillies 1: A lot of people have been talking about the Mets’ struggles at Citi Field. They do just fine at Citizens Bank Park, thank you. They won their sixth straight in Philly to open up a five game series here this weekend. Zack Wheeler pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Rangers 5, Twins 4: Leonys Martin doubled twice and scored three times. One of his runs was the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, when he came hope on a sac fly, just barely beating the throw from Danny Santana, who was playing center field despite the fact that he’s a shortstop because, hey, you gotta have 13 pitchers on staff or else the friggin’ world will end.

Angels 7, Mariners 5: Erik Aybar’s three-run homer have the Angels a 5-0 lead in the fourth and they held on from there. The Angels rattled off 15 hits. They’re a game and a half behind Oakland and if the season ended today, well, that would be really damn weird considering it’s May 30 and I suppose we wouldn’t have a baseball playoffs because I’m guessing only national tragedy of some sort would cause the season to end today so forget that whole idea of the Angels being in the playoffs if it did. God, now I’m all depressed, even though I started this thought in order to say something uplifting about the Angels. Some sort of nuclear disaster, I’m guessing. Maybe two teams’ planes colliding. Not sure. Oh my God this is horrible.

Red Sox 4, Braves 3: The Braves had a bullpen and defensive meltdown late, allowing the Sox to rally for their fourth straight win and the series sweep. I, thankfully, did not see this. I was at an Eddie Izzard show downtown. When I turned on my phone after the show, it was full of people asking me stuff like “is Brooks Conrad now the Braves’ defensive coordinator?” and offering sarcastic “BARVES!” texts. Really glad I was at the show instead.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Giants 6, Cardinals 5: Michael Morse homered and drove in three runs and Pablo Sandoval homered too. The Giants are third in all of baseball in homers. I know I said that a week or two ago, but man, it’s still pretty darn notable.

Tigers 5, Athletics 4: Rick Porcello was shaky but won his eighth game. Joe Nathan was shaky but held on for the save. The A’s and Tigers split their four-game series.

Royals 8, Blue Jays 6: Edwin Encarnacion had two more homers — that’s 15 and 16 for May — but it wasn’t enough to extend the Jays’ winning streak. Every Royals hitter had a hit including Omar Infante’s two-run single in the 10th. Obviously it was new batting coach Dale Sveum’s work here. Quick, someone go ask Sveum what he did to make the Royals hit.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 3:  Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez homered and the Pirates put up three in the seventh to back Gerrit Cole. It was just the Pirates third win in 20 games at Dodger Stadium.

Astros 3, Orioles 1: Holy crap, George Springer is on a rampage. He hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the seventh, which was his seventh homer in seven games and ten for the month of May. Brad Peacock allowed one run on six hits with eight strikeouts in six innings.

 

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.