And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 13, Red Sox 3: Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast. The Sox had a 2-1 in the sixth inning before the Yankees scored three times in the bottom of that inning and then nine times — nine times? NINE TIMES — in the seventh. Brian McCann drove in four. Chris Young knocked in three. A-Rod killed a guy with a trident.

Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 4: Wilson Ramos hit two-run single with one out in the bottom of the eighth to break a 3-3 tie and the Nats snapped their four-game skid. Didn’t matter in the standings though because . . .

Mets 5, Marlins 1: . . . The Mets won their fifth straight thanks to a four-run eighth inning. Juan Lagares had a two-run triple in that frame and Eric Campbell broke the tie with an RBI single. After the game Marlins manager Dan Jennings talked about how it’s hard to lose a game like this:

“They have a lot of momentum going their way. But when you stay right there cheek-to-cheek with them and let it get away it’s definitely frustrating.”

There’s your problem, Dan. You’re supposed to be playing baseball, not dancing.

Phillies 6, Dodgers 2: Here’s one you don’t see every day:

That was eventually ruled a balk and it put runners at second and third. A walk later loaded the bases for Makiel Franco who launched a grand slam. Not exactly the way Alex Wood wanted his Dodgers debut to go, I reckon. The Phillies, for their part, are 13-3 since the All-Star break. Which is the sort of thing, had someone given you odds on in Vegas a few weeks ago, no one woulda bet.

Cubs 5, Pirates 0: Anthony Rizzo had four hits, Jorge Soler and Starlin Castro each knocked in two and Jake Arrieta shut the Pirates out over seven innings. If the playoffs started today the Cubs would be in the wild card game. And we’d all be shocked because, wow, playoffs in August? How cool is that?!

Blue Jays 3, Twins 1: Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki hit homers that a combined distance of [bashes calculator keys while holding a pencil behind his ear] really dang far. The Jays have won six of seven and move past Minnesota into the second wild card spot.

Royals 5, Tigers 1: Sal Perez had three hits including a homer off Justin Verlander. Perez:

“I’m just up there trying to do my job and he’s trying to do his job. Today he left a couple fastballs up, and I was able to hit them.”

Story of Verlander’s season. The Tigers are now 1-8 in his nine starts.

Giants 8, Braves 3: Hunter Pence hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the eighth and Jake Peavy was solid. It was a hot and humid night in Atlanta. The kind of heat that holds ya like a mama holds her son: tight when he tries to walk, even tighter when he runs. What did you think about the humidity Jake?

“I love the humidity,” said Peavy, who is from Mobile, Ala. “Certainly I’ve gotten away from it, but when I come home, I feel good. I’ve pitched in this weather all my life. I love it.”

In other words, Jake Peavy is a monster.

Reds 3, Cardinals 2: Anthony DeSclafani struck out nine Cardinals in six innings. Tidbit from the AP gamer said that DeSclafani is the most experienced starter in the Reds rotation right now. Which, holy crap, is true. He has 26 career starts.

Rangers 4, Astros 3: This is my eighth year doing these recaps, and over that time I’ve learned pretty quickly what the key takeaway of a game is based on either a quick glance at the box score or the lede graf of the game story. Most of the work is not figuring that out but, rather, trying to find something interesting to say about games that didn’t really have an obvious key takeaway. If you read these every day you know well that oftentimes I don’t think of anything interesting to say. There are a couple thousand baseball games a year. Not all of them are exciting.

This one, however, may be the single most difficult one I’ve ever encountered given the weird and narrow parameters of what I’m doing here with this feature. The Astros lost but so did the Angels so there was no playoff movement. Carlos Gomez had a couple of RBI and homered, but he was on the losing team, so that doesn’t lead. Prince Fielder homered but it was just a solo shot and no Ranger batter had a truly big night. Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo got a win but it was a fairly non-descript win. When I can’t find anything that jumps out in the box score I go to the gamer but here the gamer spends the first nine of its paragraphs on the closer who got the save.

Anyway: when the recap post goes up closer to 8AM than 7AM, a lot of time it has to do with me staring at a box score of a game like this wondering just what in the hell it means in the grand scheme of thing. Some of them don’t mean all that much I guess.

Rays 11, White Sox 3: Tampa Bay hit four homers, two of them off Chris Sale, who has given up seven runs in each of his last two starts and 20 runs in his last four. Which, um, kinda concerning?

Brewers 4, Padres 1: Jimmy Nelson allowed three hits and no earned runs in six and two-thirds. In a lost season, Nelson emerging as a solid starter is about as good a thing the Brewers have had all year.

Mariners 10, Rockies 4: Nelson Cruz homered in his fifth straight game. That’s the second time he’s had a streak of five this season. Jon Gray made his major league debut for Colorado. He had a 33-pitch first inning and allowed three runs on five hits, striking out four in four innings. He’ll see better days.

Indians 2, Angels 0: Exhibit A in the case against anyone who is still a big fan of pitcher win as Carlos Carrasco tossed a one-hitter over nine innings, striking out seven and needing only 100 pitches . . . yet got a no-decision because the Indians couldn’t score in regulation. Indians third baseman Giovanny Urshela saved the day for the team, however, by hitting a two-run homer in the 12th.

Athletics 5, Orioles 0: Chris Bassitt tossed seven shutout innings and Marcus Semien hit a three-run homer for some added insurance. Brett Lawrie had an RBI triple and Eric Sogard scored twice.

Tony Clark thinks front offices have too much of an impact on baseball

AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post spoke to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, who said he feels that front offices have too much of an impact on the game of baseball. Clark said, “You hear players saying it’s even hard to recognize how the game is being played. If those on the field see it and experience it, then those who are watching it will notice, too. It’s not to suggest I don’t like home runs or strikeouts or walks. I like all those things. But I also like more of the strategy and the dynamics that have always determined the outcomes in our games.”

Clark continued, “The decisions that are being made are changing the game. When you’re in a climate where the decisions about how the game is being played are being made less by the players who are playing and the coaches and managers who are coaching and managing it, we find ourselves in a climate that seems to be focused in on what everybody’s calling the three true outcomes: the home run, the strikeout and the walk. I would argue that there are two true outcomes: whether you win or you lose. … I’m not saying data is a bad thing. I’m saying it’s morphed our game and its focus quite a bit.”

Clark also discussed tanking, saying, “This isn’t a player problem. It’s reflective, I believe, of very deliberate business decisions. Players as a whole compete on every pitch and every at-bat. Our industry is predicated on competition from the top down. … What it appears that we are seeing in that regard is teams withdrawing from that competition for seasons at a time. It becomes challenging when it’s more than a couple of teams that are going that route, whereby you have a considerable chasm between those that are competing at one level and those that are competing at another.”

The current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021, so the union and the owners will have three more years of talking about these issues before they are concretely addressed. The tanking issue seems like it will almost certainly be addressed.

Clark’s concern over the impact of front offices may not be misplaced, but it’s difficult to envision any kind of rule making a difference. Limit what data teams can access? Centralize the data? The “scienceification” of baseball, if you will, was an inevitability, an evolution. In order to go in a different direction, the game will need to evolve again. Trying to tamp down data usage in baseball is akin to playing whack-a-mole with various ways with which teams will find advantages over other teams.

Major League Baseball could try to cut into the ever-increasing three true outcomes rate by changing certain things about the game without touching the data. Back in 1969, the pitcher’s mound was lowered to encourage more offense. In a similar vein, to encourage more doubles and triples and fewer home runs, stadiums could be adjusted to have the fences back to a certain distance (e.g. at least 340 feet down the lines, 410 in center). The pitcher’s mound could be moved back a few inches, lessening the impact of higher velocity, which has been a big factor in the ever-increasing strikeout rate. There are surely other ideas that smart people can come up with to bring the game towards a more active, enjoyable experience. We still have three years to go so we’ll certainly be seeing some interesting suggestions.