And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 19, Phillies 3: Well that was thoroughly ridiculous. The Orioles set a franchise record with eight homers in this one., with Manny Machado and Chris Parmalee each hitting two. Of course the highlight of this — or was it the lowlight? — was Jeff Francoeur coming in and pitching two innings, about which we’ll have more to say later this morning. Or maybe the lowlight was the Phillies’ bullpen phone being off the hook, preventing Ryne Sandberg from getting anyone else to warm up when Frenchy was clearly laboring. Or maybe it was when Chase Utley was quite visibly mad at Sandberg when he was on the mound talking to Francoeur to see if he could get more pitches out of him. Either way, for every bit as uplifting and hilarious this was from the Orioles’ perspective, it was pathetic and awful from the Phillies’ perspective. I’d say it’s the kind of game that gets managers fired, but to be honest, I can’t say I’ve ever seen this kind of game before.

Cardinals 3, Twins 2: For as much as I wanted to wake up this morning and write about how the Cardinals went up there hacking, I can’t, because they only struck out four times and didn’t hit any homers. Maybe the greatest disappointment for me, personally, in the 2015 baseball season. You only get so many shots at zingers like that, an when they fail to present themselves it’s really disheartening.

Astros 8, Rockies 5: Luis Valbuena, however, took his hacks, hitting two homers and knocking in four. But really, it’s not just the same here. Sure, I could maybe make some contrived “victim takes ownership and control over the crime that befell them,” analogy, but that’s tortured even for me. Anyway, Valbuena has 41 hits this season, 16 of which are homers. After the game Hank Conger said “This guy is like the kid who only hits homers.” Which I’m pretty sure was a rejected Donald Westlake book title from 1979. He still wrote the book, but it ended up way, way too dark so he slapped his Richard Stark pen name on it and turned it into a Parker book. As usual, the movie adaptation was lacking.

UPDATE: I had no idea this existed, but multiple people have mentioned it now:

source:

That kid HAD to have been given a bunt sign once or twice, right? Took one the other way once in a while in order to take what the pitcher was giving him? Or is this a steroids story? So many questions.

Athletics 6, Padres 5: Eric Sogard drove in the go-ahead in a tie game in the ninth inning off Craig Kimbrel to spoil Pat Murphy’s managerial debut. Murphy was Sogard’s college coach. Not going to go back and read any background on them because I’m going to choose to believe that they had a falling out once and this was a student-comes-back-and-kills-his-old-sensei-for-reasons-we’ll-never-know situaish.

Giants 6, Mariners 2: The first Giants home win in ten tries. Matt Duffy hit a two-run homer and added an RBI single. He also said after the game that the win came following a team conversation:

“We had a little discussion about it today. These fans are too good for us to be playing the way we have been at home.”

In other news, most of human experience can be described as dealing with an inherently chaotic and random universe by attempting to craft fictions in which we portray ourselves as having agency and control.

Red Sox 9, Braves 4: The losing streak ends and Brock Holt hits for the cycle. If I was a member of the Boston media I’d write a straight-faced column this morning wondering why Holt couldn’t have hit a second double instead of that single and ask whether it means his focus is lacking. It could cause Dustin Pedroia to explode and that would be sort of fun. Julio Teheran gave up six earned runs on 13 hits. I can’t remember the last pitcher I saw who, when he was good he was fine, but when he was off got totally tattooed as much as Teheran get tattooed.

Pirates 3, White Sox 0: The Pirates shut the White Sox out for the second straight game. This time it was Charlie Morton who led the way, with seven scoreless innings. Morton’s ERA is 1.62. The Pirates, in fact, have three starters with ERAs under 2.00.

Reds 5, Tigers 2: Todd Frazier had two homers and Jay Bruce added one. There was an odd replay after a play at the plate on Anthony Gose in this game that (a) took a long time; and (b) seemed to go the wrong way. After the game, Brad Ausmus voiced his frustration at the way replay has gone this year:

“I definitely think that instant replay has regressed this season,” he said. “I thought for the most part, they changed calls in order to get the play right, and they did that on a regular basis.

“I’m not seeing that this year.”

His comments on that closely mirrored what I had to say about this yesterday: that replay officials are giving too much deference to the call made on the field as opposed to simply making the better call from their better vantage point.

 

Mets 3, Blue Jays 2: The good Matt Harvey made an appearance, shutting out the best offense in baseball for seven innings and striking out six. Not that the Blue Jays’ efforts were in vain. Kevin Pillar helped provide a teachable moment to all the little leaguers out there: never forget to look to your third base coach. Or at third base, for that matter, as someone may be standing on it when you try to advance there.

Marlins 12, Yankees 2: Nathan Eovaldi returned to Miami and did more for the Marlins last night than he did all last year, really. The Fish scored eight off of him in the first inning ending this one before it began. Giancarlo Stanton hit a three-run homer in the fifth giving him 24 on the year. Maybe if he hits more he’ll pass Nori Aoki in the All-Star voting.

Nationals 16. Rays 4: Jeff Francoeur may have gotten all the headlines for position players pitching last night, but the Rays used two position players on the mound: Jake Elmore and Nick Franklin. Wilson Ramos homered off of each of them in this rout. Things got pretty wild last night, man.

Rangers 3, Dodgers 2: The Rangers coughed up a two-run lead in the top of the ninth when Josh Turner hit a two-run bomb, but Robinson Chirinos got it back with a walkoff homer. Before the Turner homer, Rangers starter Chi Chi Gonzalez was going for a shutout. In other news, I can’t tell you how happy I am that we have a Chi Chi playing major league baseball.

Indians 6, Cubs 0: Trevor Bauer tossed seven shutout innings and Carlos Santana drove in four with a three-run homer and an RBI double. Santana also walked twice, helping end a personal skid. Or maybe just interrupting it. Recall what I said above about an inherently chaotic and random universe? Part of dealing with that also involves grafting artificial end-points onto a never-ending river of time.

Royals 7, Brewers 2: Chris Young pitched well (7IP, 5 H, o ER) and drove in three at the plate on two RBI singles. Royals fans suddenly vote him ahead of Mike Trout as the ninth starter in the All-Star Game.

Angels 4, Diamondbacks 1: Two-run homers from Albert Pujols and David Freese was all the Angels needed, but they also got seven strong innings from Garret Richards in which he allowed only one unearned run. The game story leads with stuff about how Mike Scioscia switched the lineup around to put Pujols in the cleanup spot. Pujols will not hear about that meaning anything:

“You don’t change your approach because of where you’re hitting in the lineup. It doesn’t matter if you hit eighth, leadoff … you’ve still got to go out there and play. I wish you guys flip that page and stay focused on the things we have to concentrate on, and that’s winning — not about where I hit, or Trout hitting third. I mean, if that’s your wish, you got it tonight.”

Prediction: a future Hall of Famer explaining in no uncertain terms that hitters don’t change their approach based on where they are in the lineup will do nothing to stop the media from claiming that hitters change their approach based on where they are in the lineup. Why? Probably because, in addition to (a) attempting to craft fictions in which we portray ourselves as having agency and control; and (b) grafting artificial end-points onto a never-ending river of time, we deal with a hostile and uncaring universe by telling ourselves that we truly matter and that our place in it gives us importance merely by our occupying it. “I’m a baseball writer,” the baseball writer thinks, “and if I say something, it must be insightful and true, even if it is demonstrably not.”

Man. Today got kind of existential. Not sure why. I’m guessing Francoeur pitching had something to do with that. Really threw my ju-ju off.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.