Getty Images

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

26 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 9, Phillies 8: A bullpen! A bullpen! My KINGDOM for a bullpen! Both the Nats and the Phillies experienced some pretty heinous late inning meltdowns in this one, but since the Phillies’ meltdown was last — and since starter Aaron Nola had dug his team a hole earlier in the game to begin with –Washington came out on top. First it was a combination of Nats Tony Sipp, Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough coughing up four runs and the lead in the top of the eighth. Washington got two of those back and tied it at eight in the bottom half off of Seranthony Domínguez. The top of the ninth was scoreless for Philly but in the bottom half new Phillie Dave Robertson gave up a leadoff single to Anthony Rendon, then three straight bases on balls, giving the Nationals a walkoff walk. Craig Kimbrel was probably watching this game in his den, shaking his head the entire time.

In all, this long and sloppy game featured 22 hits, 14 walks, 16 strikeouts, 344 pitches, four errors and lasted three hours and fifty-three minutes. The only ones who came out of it looking good were Bryce Harper, who was intentionally walked twice, unintentionally walked once and had two hits to reach base five times, and Juan Soto, who hit his first homer of the season.

Braves 6, Cubs 4: In other Contender Which Should Have a Better Bullpen news, in Atlanta we had yet another bullpen meltdown for the Cubs. Here Jon Lester gave them six innings of two-run ball — the two runs coming on Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson dingers — and Brandon Kintzler handled the seventh. Neither Steve Cishek nor Randy Rosario could record an out in the eighth, though, coughing up four runs, the lead, and ultimately, the game. Cishek walked the bases loaded to start things off, Rosario came to face Johan Camargo, who hit a bases-clearing double. Brad Brach came in and gave up a single that pushed Camargo to third and he was sacrificed home via a Dansby Swanson fly ball. Cubs relievers issued five walks. It was the team’s third blown save of the season and third loss by a relief pitcher in five games. Chicago has lost four straight overall.

Brewers 1, Reds 0: Brewers starter Freddy Peralta was dominant, striking out 11 in eight innings, allowing only two hits and not walking a soul. The only offense he’d get would be a Manny Piña RBI single in the second and it’s the only offense he’d need. Peralta would throw 100 pitches. 84 of them were fastballs. The Reds basically knew what was coming and couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

Rockies 1, Rays 0: Ten innings of pitchers trading zeros — Charlie Morton tosses six shutout innings for the Rays, Gabe Márquez tossed seven for he Rockies — and then a Chris Iannetta homer in the top of the 11th to seal it for Colorado. But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about Rays reliever José Alvarado, who tossed one inning and struck out three guys. I’ve not seen him pitch much — maybe a game or three last year — and I didn’t pay too much attention, but he was brought to everyone’s attention on Twitter yesterday thanks to Rob Friedman, the Pitching Ninja, who likes to share the wonders of the pitching universe:

There are hitters looking at film of that kind of filth who immediately fall into the Sheriff’s speech from “No Country for Old Men.” They’re saying stuff like “The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willin’ to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet somethin’ I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard.”

White Sox 8, Indians 3: Corey Kluber was roughed up for six runs — four earned — on eight hits and walked three in less than four innings of work. His counterpart, Carlos Rodon, allowed one run — unearned — on only two hits in six innings and struck out nine. Jose Abreu hit a two run double and drove in three in all, Leury Garcia had four hits and Yoan Mocada hit a two-run homer. It was Kluber’s first loss to the Chisox in nearly four years. Hanley Ramírez hit a two-run homer in a losing cause. The Indians have two homers all year and Ramírez has both of ’em.

Twins 7, Royals 6: Earlier this week I was watching a game — I can’t remember which game — in which the announcer was talking about how the manager in question doesn’t pinch run for catchers because “95% of the time when you pinch run for someone it ends up not mattering anyway.” Welcome to the 5%. Here Kansas City had a lead but the Twins chipped away and tied it in the eighth on a two-run single from Max Kepler. In the ninth, Nelson Cruz drew a leadoff walk and Rocco Baldelli pinch-ran Byron Buxton for him. It was a Dante day for Buxton — he wasn’t even supposed to be here thanks to hurting his ribs on Tuesday — but his legs still worked. Buxton stole second and then was driven home by an Eddie Rosario single to give Minnesota the go-ahead and, ultimately, winning run. Willians Astudillo and Mitch Garver each had three hits and scored twice for Minnesota.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 3: Birds win! Randal Grichuk got a somewhat surprising $52 million contract extension on Tuesday and on Wednesday he celebrated with two homers. He also doubled and came around to score. Matt Shoemaker pitched seven shutout innings, just as he did last Friday against Detroit. He didn’t get $52 million to do it, though. He did it for the love of the game or something. Trey Mancini hit a three-run homer in the ninth. It was his third dinger of the year already. Too little, too late, of course.

Tigers 2, Yankees 1: Matt Boyd struck out 13 while pitching into the seventh and allowing only one run. The Yankees struck out 18 times overall, which is a team record for a nine-inning game. While Detroit didn’t do too much more damage than the Bombers did, Gordon Beckham‘s tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth made the difference. In other news, Troy Tulowitzki because the latest Yankee to go down to injury, leaving the game in the fourth inning with what was described as a low-grade calf strain. It’ll almost certainly land him on the injured list. Here’s a live look at the Yankees clubhouse:

Padres 4, Diamondbacks 1: Manny Machado hit a two-run homer in the seventh to give the Padres a 4-0 lead. It was his first homer with his new club. I didn’t watch the game, but can someone tell me how the homer was dirty and bush league and just absolutely rotten and how it’s gonna get Machado a butt-kicking one day? I presume the Diamondbacks’ announcers had some theories about all of that.

Mets 6, Marlins 4: Jacob deGrom continued his dominance, tossing seven shutout innings and striking out 14 in the process. It set his career high for punchouts. He also hit a homer, which was his second ding-dong of his career. Things got a bit dicey in the ninth as Luis Avilán, starting his second inning of work, allowed the first three hitters he faced to reach and ended up being charged with three runs. Robert Gsellman relieved him and had a rough go of it, allowing an additional run. Ediwn Díaz ended up having to come on for the save, even though the Mets began the inning with a 6-0 lead.

Rangers 4, Astros 0: We had an ump show on our hands. Arguing balls and strikes is one thing and, fine, if you complain about that to a certain degree, you’re gonna get tossed, but when an ump is being confrontational and yelling “I can do whatever I want!” like Ron Kulpa was, it’s a problem. Be the bigger man, blue. Anyway, none of that seemed to bother Rangers stater Mike Minor all that much as he tossed seven shutout innings. Nomar Mazara homered and had an RBI single. Hunter Pence had an RBI single of his own and Ronald Guzmán doubled him in. The Rangers have won each of their first two series of the season.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 4: For the second game in the row the Pirates blew a lead to the Cards, this one a 3-0 margin they held after six. In the seventh Paul DeJong and Harrison Bader homered for the redbirds to tie things at three. In extras, Tyler O'Neill singled in Kolten Wong, who had led off the frame with a triple, and then Bader scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. A bases-loaded walk pulled the Buccos to within one in the bottom half, but thats all they’d get. Ballgame.

Red Sox 6, Athletics 3: The Red Sox ended their four-game skid thanks to a tiebreaking, two-run double in the ninth inning by Mookie Betts that had a little luck backing it. Luck that had the ball hitting and ricocheting off the third base bag and out of reach of the vacuum cleaner Matt Chapman has for a glove:

Andrew Benintendi would knock Betts in. Blake Swihart three hits, including a homer. Mitch Moreland hit a two-run double and J.D. Martinez singled to extend his hitting streak to seven games. The Sox avoid their first five-game losing streak in four years.

Dodgers 5, Giants 3: Steven Duggar and Brandon Belt hit homers that gave the Giants a 3-2 lead which held up until the seventh, but the Dodgers rallied with a two-run David Freese double putting L.A. back on top. Chris Taylor doubled in a run in the eighth to give them a lead Kenley Jansen had no trouble holding. Dodgers pitchers retired the final 14 Giants batters, in fact, as L.A. won for the fifth time in seven games.

Something needs to change to avoid future incidents like Machado-vs.-Welke

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
19 Comments

On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that Padres third baseman Manny Machado was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for “aggressively arguing” and making contact with home plate umpire Bill Welke after a controversial strike three call in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado. The clip of the incident is below, showing that Welke’s call was poor. Machado’s behavior was also poor, as he indeed made contact — inadvertently or not — with Welke and repeatedly swore at him. Machado also threw his bat, though it was not in anyone’s direction and no one was put in harm’s way.

Machado chose to appeal his suspension, as is his right. While that matter is in the process of being resolved, the Major League Umpires Association put out a lengthy statement on Facebook and a shorter but hashtag-laden post on Twitter. The statements were problematic for a number of reasons, chiefest being that the union is publicly commenting on an ongoing matter. MLB can keep Machado’s suspension at one game, which seems likely, or it can reduce his suspension to zero games. The league can also choose to reduce or remove the fine as well. Once the matter is resolved, the MLBUA should feel free to comment publicly on the matter.

MLBUA’s statement was also poorly proofread, hyperbolic, and creates a very legitimate argument for bias against Machado and/or the Padres going forward. The MLBUA described Machado as “violently” throwing his bat “with no regard to anyone’s safety.” It continued, “It is NOT okay to throw a temper tantrum and physically touch someone of authority, just because you don’t agree.”

MLBUA then moralized, asking, “What does this teach the MLB’s immense and ongoing influential youth movement trying to attract young fans to the game? Major League Baseball has to always lead by example in all cases of violent behavior, on and off the field.” It closed out, saying that the union was “extraordinarily disappointed” in MLB’s “inaction.”

Among the hashtags MLBUA used on Twitter were “#TemperTantrum,” “#RepeatOffender,” and “#Nonsense.”

Major League Baseball then released a statement on Tuesday night, saying, “…we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association.” The league added, “We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”

Whoever put out the message on behalf of the MLBUA should have asked themselves, “What is my purpose here and for whom am I posting this?” The entire purpose of a trade union is to create a cohesive unit, establishing bargaining power on behalf of labor versus capital. So, MLBUA is not writing this for fans, for players, or for MLB executives; it is publicly commenting for umpires. An ancillary benefit might be to engender public support for umpires vis-a-vis Welke.

It must then ask itself if the statement creates solidarity among umpires. And I think that’s a solid no. Machado is not the first player and will not be the last to make contact with an umpire and to throw a “temper tantrum” of that magnitude. So why single Machado out and die on this hill today? I would be shocked if more than a handful of umpires outside of Welke and his closest confidantes appreciated the MLBUA reacting the way it did. It doesn’t help them achieve any union-specific goals and might actually hurt them. Repeatedly referring to Machado’s actions as a “temper tantrum” and “nonsense,” and calling him a “repeat offender” is unprofessional. It’s something an Internet commenter would write in the heat of the moment, not the representative of a trade union in one of the most profitable industries in the country. Furthermore, in singling out Machado, Machado himself as well as his teammates have a legitimate reason to believe Welke and his crew might be biased against them not just for the remainder of the season but for the foreseeable future.

On a more pedantic note, the MLBUA wrote that it is not okay for players to act the way Machado did against “someone of authority.” It’s not the power that should shield umpires from workplace violence; it’s their humanity. Machado should no more or less scream and yell at an umpire than he should anyone else in any walk of life. However you rank umpires, coaches, front office executives, teammates, opponents, fans, etc. — they should all be treated equally.

All of this being said, there was one part of MLBUA’s statement that rang true. As mentioned, Welke did suffer violence in the workplace. I disagree with MLB that the comparison was inappropriate. There is nuance to what constitutes “workplace violence.” Is it a mass shooting? Of course not. But in no other employment setting would it be appropriate for one person to scream, curse, and throw items across the room during a disagreement. The union correctly wrote, “Physical contact simply cannot be tolerated.” The crux of all of this is that Major League Baseball doesn’t discourage altercations between umpires and players/coaches. Things have gotten better since the implementation of instant replay, but some instances — especially ball/strike judgment — can turn into very heated altercations.

MLB needs a flat rule instructing players and coaches not to argue with umpires. The team of the offending person(s) would incur an in-game penalty as well as a potential fine and suspension. In exchange for this loss of power on the part of players and coaches, the umpires should be subject to actual oversight. As it stands, umpires are almost never punished in any way for any kind of behavior towards players and coaches, nor are they often punished for poor results in terms of correct calls made. The umpires already have the advantage with their authority; their lack of oversight puts that advantage on steroids, which is why there’s often so much frustration. Umpires instigate confrontations a non-negligible amount of the time. If they felt like they would actually be held accountable for it, they might be much more reluctant to act, for example, the way Ron Kulpa did towards the Astros in early April.

MLBUA helped gain that power imbalance for its members, so it isn’t likely to give it up very easily. I don’t see my utopian dream coming to fruition anytime soon. But that’s the crux of every umpire-involved confrontation: authority. Umpires and players/coaches need to be on a level playing field in that regard, and the rules need to be crystal clear on what kind of behavior is allowed from both sides. Until that happens, we’ll be seeing a Machado-vs.-Welke incident once or twice every year ad infinitum.