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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 6, Braves 3: The Braves normally enjoy hitting against Gio Gonzalez, but that wasn’t the case yesterday. Gonzalez allowed only one run and scattered six hits over seven innings of work. Meanwhile, Braves starter Anibal Sanchez left early after taking a comebacker to the leg. Once he left, the Nats bats teed off on relievers Wes Parsons and Adam McCreery. By the by, “Parsons and McCreery” sounds like the name of a West Virginia funeral home. If there was a “Lilly” in there it’d sound specifically like a Southern West Virginia funeral home. The, like, two of you out there besides me who are from West Virginia are nodding at that and the rest of you are wondering how I wasn’t fired from this job ages ago. Life is full of mysteries, but I am right about the funeral home thing.

Yankees 7, Rangers 3: Neil Walker hit two homers for the Yankees and Aaron Hicks and Miguel Andujar each went deep too, but the homer everyone was talking about was hit by Giancarlo Stanton.

You may or may not be a fan of Statcast, but according to the metrics it tracks, Stanton’s homer was the hardest hit since it began recoding such data:

I, personally, don’t think Statcast adds much to my enjoyment of baseball — even old man John Sterling knew that ball was hit about as hard as a ball could be hit as soon as he saw it, as would anyone who has watched a bit of baseball in their life — but it is something, I suppose, to be at the top of that particular leader board.

Indians 5, Twins 4: Another day, another walkoff loss for the Twins at the hands of the Indians. It was Michael Brantley doing the deed yesterday with an RBI single off of Addison Reed. This one has to hurt for the Twins, because they were down 4-0 to Corey Kluber of all people and rallied to tie it, with Jorge Polanco hitting a three-run jack off of him in the fifth. It’s, the 12th walkoff loss for the Twins this year. Yikes.

Padres 8, Brewers 4: The Brewers’ bullpen was a major strength for the club in the first half. It sure as hell wasn’t yesterday. Milwaukee took a 4-2 lead into the top of the ninth and entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 8-4. The damage in terms of runs allowed came mostly against Corey Knebel, who walked three batters and gave up a hit with all four baserunners eventually scoring. The damage in terms of the fireworks lit was attributable to Joakim Soria, who entered into the bases-loaded situation created by Knebel and served up a grand slam to Hunter Renfroe‘s. Soria was replaced by Jacob Barnes who immediately threw a gopher ball to Franmil Reyes to complete the meltdown. Milwaukee drops two games behind the first-place Cubs.

Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 5: Mookie Betts hit for the cycle but that only amounted to one RBI, on the homer, thanks to most of the rest of the order not doing a whole heck of a lot. Meanwhile, the Jays battered Rick Porcello for seven runs in four innings, with Teoscar Hernandez and Randall Grichuk each taking him deep. Justin Smoak went 3-for-4 and drove in a couple as well. It was Boston’s first loss in seven games.

Rays 5, Orioles 4Jake Bauers drove in three, with two of ’em coming on a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning. The Orioles are now one loss away from being eliminated from the AL East race. But hey: the Wild Card is still, mathematically anyway, in play!

Mariners 8, Astros 6: Homers from Mitch Haniger, Denard Span and Jean Segura gave the M’s a six-run lead after two innings, all off of Justin Verlander of all people. Seattle got a couple more RBIs from Haniger and Span in the sixth which provided enough insurance to withstand Houston’s late push.

Dodgers 8, Rockies 5: This was a 1-1 game, nicely pitched by Ross Stripling and Tyler Anderson, heading into the seventh. At that point it was turned over to the bullpens, each of which decided that they weren’t interested in doing their job too well. Joc Pederson and Max Muncy each hit homers in the top of the seventh and the Rockies scored four in their half of the frame with three coming off of a Chris Iannetta homer. Cody Bellinger hit a two-run homer in the eighth to tie things up at five and L.A. added three more in the ninth via a solo shot from Chris Taylor and a two-run homer from Brian Dozier. The Dodgers have won six straight at Coors Field. They also pulled into a first-place tie with idle Arizona in the West.

Pirates 10, Giants 5: Ivan Nova allowed two runs in six innings and he was backed by three homers, including David Freese‘s 100th career bomb. Elias Diaz and Josh Bell were the other two Buccos to go yard. The Giants have dropped five of six and are now two games below .500. Pittsburgh has won three in a row.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.