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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 11, White Sox 2: Cleveland wins its 15th straight and it came in a laugher, with the Tribe offense jumping on White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey for seven runs in the first three innings. Corey Kluber didn’t need even half of that run support as he tied up the Chisox for seven innings, allowing only two runs on three hits and striking out 13. The last team to win at least 15 in a row was the 2002-03 Giants, who did it straddling the offseason. The last team to win as many as 15 in a single season was the 2002 A’s, who famously won 20 in a row between August 13 and September 4.

Yankees 9, Orioles 1: The Bombers hit four bombs, with Aaron Judge and Chase Headley hitting two-run homers and Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier adding solo shots. Judge has destroyed the Orioles this year. His line against them: .449/.603/1.082 with nine homers, 18 RBI and 19 walks. That’s just obscene.

Nationals 4, Phillies 3: Four wins in a row for the Nationals, whose magic number is now down to four. Trea Turner hit a two-run single in the sixth. Michael A. Taylor robbed Andres Blanco of a homer with a leaping grab. Everything’s coming up Nationals lately.

Braves 6, Marlins 5: One of the reasons Washington’s magic number is so low so early is because the Marlins are absolutely reeling. Miami has lost 10 of 11, including five straight. This one was a back-breaker, as the lowly Braves mounted a two-run rally in the ninth for a come-from-behind win. Brad Ziegler tried to nail it down, but Matt Adams doubled to lead off the inning, Nick Markakis pinch-ran for him and Ozzie Albies doubled Markakis in. After an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman and a ground out that erased Albies, Kurt Suzuki doubled home Freeman to give the Braves the walkoff win.

Cubs 8, Pirates 2: Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-2 with 2 RBI and 2 walks and 2 runs scored. That makes for a very pretty and satisfying line in the box score. Ian Happ, who is from the Pittsburgh area, went 3-for-5 and scored twice. He also threw a runner out at the plate. Quite an improvement over the night before when he tripped over his own bat running out of the batter’s box.

Mets 7, Reds 2Brandon Nimmo hit two homers on a 3-for-4, three RBI day and Matt Harvey got his first win since May 28 with a five inning, two run, five-hit performance. It wasn’t a great outing — he only struck out one guy — but it’s an improvement over his last start.

Twins 4, Royals 2: Minnesota was down 2-1 after eight but rallied for three in the top of the ninth with a Brian Dozier sac fly and a two-run single from Jorge Polanco off of Kelvin Herrera with two outs. Not the sort of loss the Royals can take if they want to stay relevant in the AL Wild Card race. Kansas City falls to three and a half games back, but with four teams in between them and the the Twins, who remain a game up on the Angels for the second slot.

Padres 3, Cardinals 0: Clayton Richard tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off. Wil Myers‘ two-run homer in the seventh was the big blow for the Padres. St. Louis had a chance in the ninth, rallying to load the bases with two outs, but Brad Hand struck out Dexter Fowler to end the threat.

Rockies 9, Dodgers 1: That’s seven straight losses for the Dodgers and this one hurt more as it came with their ace, Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Colorado was unimpressed, scoring three runs off of him in the first inning courtesy of a Nolan Arenado three-run homer and handing him his first loss since May 6. The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Josh Ravin gave up back-to-back bases-loaded walks in the seventh inning and the fans in Dodger Stadium rained down boos. L.A. is lucky the playoffs start in October and not September.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.