Orioles beat Rays in 14 innings to complete sweep

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Another day, another one-run victory for the unstoppable Orioles.

Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 3-2 in 14 innings Thursday to complete a three-game sweep. Manny Machado came up big again, delivering a game-winning single after starting the day 0-for-5.

It looked like the Orioles would win it in the 13th, but Chris Archer, making his first major league relief appearance, got three outs to escape a bases-loaded jam. The first out was aided by a five-man infield, as Robert Andino grounded to second and the Rays got the out at home. Archer then struck out pinch-hitter Matt Wieters and Nate McLouth.

Archer went on to take the loss in the 14th. After pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings, he allowed a walk to Adam Jones and back-to-back singles to Endy Chavez and Machado, ending the game.

Baltimore’s early hero was catcher Taylor Teagarden, as the .119 hitter put the team on the board with a two-run double in the seventh. He has just six hits this season, but they include two homers and three doubles. He had a walkoff homer in his first appearance of the season for the team on July 14.

The Orioles have now won 13 straight extra-inning games. They’re an incredible 27-7 in one-run games this season. At 81-62, they’ve ensured themselves their first .500 season since 1997, not they they seem likely to stop there, as they’re 26-11 since Aug. 3. All that and they’ve still been outscored 643-623 for the season.

As for the Rays, things look pretty bleak. They’re 4 games back of the Orioles in the AL East. They’re also 4 1/2 games behind the A’s and they’ll end the night 3 or 4 back of the Yankees. They’ll have to pass one of those teams and fend off the Angels and Tigers to claim a postseason spot. It’s still doable, but it’s going to take a winning streak.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Dodgers owner Mark Walter is involved in a scandal

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The Dodgers last owner, Frank McCourt, was a mainstay of the gossip pages. The new administration has been pretty drama free since taking over five years ago. That is, until now.

Multiple outlets, ranging from the New York Post to the Wall Street Journal, have been reporting on a scandal brewing at Guggenheim Partners, the multi-billion investment firm led by Mark Walter, its CEO. Walter is also the head of Guggenheim Baseball Management, the offshoot of the firm which owns the Dodgers. Walter is the Dodgers’ named owner — the “control person” — as far as Major League Baseball is concerned.

The scandal does not directly relate to the baseball team. Rather, it involves allegations that Walter bought a $13 million Pacific Palisades home for a younger female executive named Alexandra Court:

In the past 24 hours, the company has pushed back on multiple reports that CEO Mark Walter will step down; its chief investment officer has claimed on CNBC that there’s “no tumult” at the company; and Guggenheim has denied reports on a real-estate blog and in the New York Post that Walter bought a California mansion for a younger female executive at the company.

The denial regarding who bought the mansion is a bit too cute, though, as the company only denies that Walter bought it or owns it. In fact, the mansion is owned by a holding company that also bought Walter’s personal residence in Malibu. Billionaires don’t go to closings at title company offices, of course. They buy houses through companies and LLCs and trusts and stuff. As such, the claim that Walter didn’t buy the house may be technically and legally true but entirely misleading all the same. For what it’s worth, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Walter and Court have a “personal relationship.” Walter, who is married, and the company deny this. Court is on an extended leave of absence.

Walter and Guggenheim are denying that Walter is going to step down as CEO. That remains to be seen. The question for our purposes is whether, if he steps down from Guggenheim Partners, he would necessarily have to step down from Guggenheim Baseball Management and thus relinquish control of the Dodgers. I suspect not — they’re distinct legal entities, and his departure from Partners would be unrelated to stuff having to do with the baseball team — but you never know. It’s not like he put up $2 billion of his personal dollars for the team. There are likely a lot of strings attached and contingencies involved to the arrangement.

Something to watch.