And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Apart from the Bryce Harper ejection, which I’ll talk about below, not that dang much interesting seems to have happened last night. Which is part of that ebb-and-flow, yin-and-yang of the 2,400-game season I was talking about last week. Some Wednesday nights just sort of happen, and that’s a good thing. Baseball was there whether it was interesting or not and whether we saw it or not and that has its own value.

If anything cool happened I didn’t see it. Instead I went to go see “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which was every bit as exciting as it was made out to be. Though I think it’s possible people overstated what the movie actually is. There’s a lot of talk about its feminist underpinnings and commentary and a lot of hilariously awful people have denounced the movie in their sad little ways. Sure, there is some element of that here, but it’s not an overtly political movie. At least not any more political than the other Mad Max films which are all premised on the idea that some idiots have ruined the world and the other idiots who now run it do so in brutal fashion. It just so happens that those idiots are, Tina Turner notwithstanding, men.

Here the big to-do seems to be that It’s — gasp! — a movie with a strong woman in the lead and some strong women characters doing cool things and kicking a little War Boy ass. Which I suppose passes for radical these days, sadly. But if it wasn’t for the fact that most movies deliver pretty boring and cliche gender roles, people wouldn’t have made much of a note of it. All of which is to say that, to the extent “Fury Road” and its kickass women stick out in this regard it’s because everything else is so damn awful. If you put Trinity in the lead in “The Matrix” it would’ve worked just as well. Maybe better because she was amazing. But Hollywood tends not to do that and, as a result, we all act confused/surprised/excited/angry when Charlize Theron drives the War Wagon instead of some scruffy man.

As for the flick on its own terms, it’s a fantastically well-done, visually arresting B-movie which, if you know me, you know is not an insult at all. The other Mad Max flicks and most big action movies are basically B-movies at heart, even if their budgets and stars are big. “Fury Road” knows exactly what it’s doing, does it well and smashes up all kinds of crap in fun, explosive fabulousness in the process. Which is exactly what you need a couple of times a summer, especially on nights when the baseball really doesn’t deliver. Anyway:

Nationals 3, Yankees 2: Denard Span helped drive the comeback victory, hitting a bases-loaded single off reliever Justin Wilson in the seventh. The bases were loaded due to an error and a couple of walks which, well, not too great for the Yankees.

Of course everyone here was talking about the ump show, which was ridiculous, with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson (a) missing a call; (b) getting super defensive about it; and (c) ejecting Bryce Harper because, in Hudson’s view, he didn’t get back in the batter’s box fast enough. Of course, given that (a) Harper only left the box because Hudson had taken his mask off to jaw at the Nats’ dugout; and (b) pace-of-play issues are not supposed to be dealt with via ejections, Hudson’s only possible complaint was that Harper was bruising his wrongfully-substantial ego. Ridiculous. But of course there is no public accountability for umpires so it’s highly unlikely that we’ll hear of any discipline Hudson receives, however well-deserved it is.

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Diamondbacks 6, Marlins 1: Six straight losses for Miami as they couldn’t figure out Chase Anderson. Who is a pitcher now but, if he existed in the 1980s, would be the evil, preppy rival of our hero who would be vanquished in The Big Game or The Big Match or something at the end of the movie. Then the hero would get the girl who would, somehow, have spent the middle part of the movie with Chase Anderson before coming to her senses. Why our hero is even interested in someone so fickle to begin with is beyond me and I bet that, later, they have some difficult conversations about the basis of their relationship. Or not. They’re in high school for Pete’s sake.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: Marc Krauss hit a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh after the Jays pitched around Mike Trout to get to him. As Krauss said after the game, it was a wise decision to pitch around Trout to get to Krauss and, even if it burned them here, anyone should be doing that regardless. Krauss was in the game, by the way, because Albert Pujols got hit in the hand with a pitch. He’s day-to-day.

Astros 6, Athletics 1: Dallas Keuchel won his eighth consecutive decision dating back to last season, allowing just one run, unearned, in seven innings.  His ERA on the year is now 1.67. Evan Gattis’ two-run homer in the sixth put Houston up for good and everything after was insurance. The Astros sport the best record in the AL. Just as everyone predicted they would.

Rangers 2, Red Sox 1Phil Klein made his first big league start and it went well: five and a third innings, five hits one run. The Sox had their chances but stranded runners like it was their job.

Mariners 4, Orioles 2: Roenis Elias, whose name I like to say more than most ballplayers because it just flows, man, allowed one run, six hits and no walks in seven and two-thirds. Justin Ruggiano homered scored twice and drove in two.

Twins 4, Pirates 3: Joe Mauer hit his first homer since last August and it came at a good time: the 13th inning. Torii Hunter went 3-for-5 with three RBI. The Pirates are 0-6 in extra innings.

Tigers 5, Brewers 2: Nick Castellanos hit a bases-clearing triple in the eighth. After runs were hard to come by in the past couple of games against Milwaukee, this had to seem like floodgates opening.

Braves 2, Rays 1: Rookie Williams Perez gave up one run over five innings and had seven strikeouts in his first major league start and rookie Todd Cunningham drove in the tiebreaking run with a groundout. That feeling when you really don’t know who the hell plays for your team anymore but, hey, you’ll take the win.

Cardinals 9, Mets 0: Matt Adams homered. Jason Heyward homered. Matt Holliday and Kolten Wong both had three hits. Bartolo Colon got shelled and the Mets fell out of their first-place tie in the East. Colon walked two batters. He had only walked one guy all season before yesterday.

Indians 4, White Sox 3: Shaun Marcum made his first big league start since July 2013 and got the win here after two years of battling shoulder ailments. Carlos Rodon made his third start for the White Sox and, while he did generally OK, pitching six innings and giving up one run on four hits, he walked five. He’s walking way too many guys.

Royals 7, Reds 1: Six shutout innings from Jeremy Guthrie as the Royals won for the fifth time in six games. That win improves their record to 26-14, with is KC’s best-ever record after 40 games.

Phillies 4, Rockies 2: Ryan Howard had three hits, including a homer. Howard is hitting .328 with four homers and 10 RBI in 64 at bats in May.

Cubs 3, Padres 2: A defacto bullpen game for the Cubs as Tsuyoshi Wada only lasted four and two-thirds, but he struck out nine guys regardless. His only mistake was allowing a two-run homer to Justin Upton.

Giants 4, Dodgers 0: The Tim Lincecum renaissance continues. He won his third straight, lowering his ERA to 2.08 after shutting down the Dodgers on three hits over seven shutout innings. Buster Posey hit a two-run homer in the seventh. Five wins in a row for the Giants, who are now only two and a half back of L.A.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

aaron judge
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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.