And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

36 Comments

Angels 6, Mariners 5: Fernando Rodney was called on for the five-out save. He got the first two to close out the eighth and even did his little bow and arrow thing. Maybe a bit too early there, Fernando. In the ninth Albert Pujols doubled home Mike Trout to tie it, and mocked Rodney with his own bow-and-arrow move when he pulled into second. Trout shot one back at him from the dugout. Then, after a Josh Hamilton single, a couple of intentional walks and a double play, Grant Green singled home Hamilton for the winning run. It was the Angels’ 30th come-from-behind win this season. The A’s may be handing out whuppin’s, but a win is a win no matter what the margin of victory and there the Angels sit a game and a half back.

Athletics 10, Orioles 2: Here’s that whuppin’ I was taking about. The A’s have delivered a lot of whuppin’s this year. This was their 12th win by eight or more runs so far this season. No one else in baseball has more than five.

Rays 5, Twins 3: Five straight wins for the Rays and 14 of their last 18. Which is either just good enough to mess up the front office’s plans to trade David Price and Ben Zobrist by making the fans think the Rays have a chance or just good enough to enhance those plans by giving the front office some “well, we may not trade him after all . . .” leverage with potential trading partners. I have no idea how that all works. For all I know they make trades in the big leagues via some computerized system in which they get emails telling you “Congratulations: [Team] has accepted your offer.”

Astros 11, White Sox 7: A 17-hit attack by Houston. They had a 4-0 lead and then watched as the Sox tied it at seven but then they pulled away. This snaps a losing streak of four for Houston. Three games and that trainwreck of a draftee signing deadline on Friday afternoon.

Pirates 5, Rockies 3: Aggressive baserunning helped the Pirates as, on three occasions, a base runner took an extra base and then ended up scoring. Also helping: the fact that they were playing the Rockies. Following this sweep someone had better take Dick Monfort’s iPad away from him.

Nationals 5, Brewers 4: Milwaukee tied it in the top of the ninth but then Werth walks ’em off with an RBI double. After the game Werth talked about situations where runners are in scoring position and the game is on the line:

“That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s why we do this. If you find yourself in that situation and you don’t want to be there, I think you’re in the wrong line of work.”

Upon hearing that teammate Scott Hairston (.071/.118/.071 with runners in scoring position all year) turned in his bat and applied to grad school.

Red Sox 6, Royals 0: Jon Lester with eight shutout innings and eight strikeouts. That’s the third time in his last four starts he’s allowed no earned runs. He and the Red Sox may not be negotiating about his contract anymore, but he’s definitely making statements about it.

Braves 8, Phillies 2: Tommy La Stella drove in three runs and Chris Johnson hit a two-run homer. Dan Uggla watched the game with increasing anger from his couch, flexing his biceps and thinking about what could’ve been, probably. Of course he also spent some time thinking about how he’ll spend the $19 million he has coming from the Braves for the next year and a half, so it’s not too bad.

Yankees 3, Reds 2: Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Skip Schumaker were converging on a pop in shallow right. Two of them were playing positions they really probably shouldn’t be playing. The other one — Bruce — is a pretty nifty right fielder but had the farthest to go for the ball. Guess what happened? Yankees walk off and Brian McCann is credited with an RBI single off the nastiest lefty reliever going. Baseball is cool sometimes.

Tigers 5, Indians 1: Miguel Cabrera was 3 for 5 with a homer and three RBI. Drew Smyly allowed one run on four his over seven innings. Between this game, the Reds game and the birthday party I misguidedly held in my home for my nine-year-old son yesterday (eight additional nine-years-olds attending) it was just a horrible day for people from Ohio. I probably got the worst of it, though.

Marlins 3, Giants 2: Tim Lincecum threw great but he bounced one in the dirt in the seventh allowing the go-ahead run to score. Casey McGehee hit a homer. It was only his second of the year, but the two-run shot gives him 56 RBI on the year. That’s a pace of 94 RBI and only three homers. Which is pretty trippy. In 1957 Mickey Mantle drove in 94 homers with 34 homers. In 1960 he drove in 94 RBI with 40 homers. The takeaway: Casey McGehee just knows how to drive in runners better than Mickey Mantle ever did.

Blue Jays 9, Rangers 6: Melky Cabrera hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh and was 3 for 5 with three RBI overall. He was 3 for 4 the day before. The Rangers scored a run on a balk in the sixth in which Mark Buehrle slipped and fell down. I bet the time it took him to set for that pitch, fall, get back up and deliver the subsequent pitch was still less than it takes half the guys in baseball to throw a single pitch.

Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 2: Not gonna say the Cubs are historically unlucky, but in this one the go-ahead run scored when Anthony Rizzo made an awesome catch on a foul ball. Except the catch took him and the ball out of play. Problem: there was a runner on third and when the defender takes the ball out of play, the runners are awarded a base. In this case, home.

Padres 2, Mets 1: Odrisamer Despaigne didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the eighth. Not bad for a guy who throws more junk than Lamont Sanford. After five starts he has a 1.31 ERA, though, so it’s not like it ain’t workin’.

Dodgers 4, Cardinals 3: Peter Bourjos hit an unexpected homer to tie it in the sixth off of Clayton Kershaw of all people, but then the Dodgers plated the winning run in the ninth rallying against Trevor Rosenthal. Kershaw’s run of seven starts allowing one or fewer runs comes to an end but a win makes everything shiny.*

*note: I watched “Serenity” again last night so I’m going to be sprinkling that stuff in for a few days. Can’t help myself.

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

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
31 Comments

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.