St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates - Game Two

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 2, Cardinals 1; Pirates 6, Cardinals 0: First. Place. Pirates. And the best record in baseball. A walkoff in the opener and a beatdown in the nightcap. Six straight losses by the reeling Cardinals, who lost Yadier Molina to the DL on top of it all. And maybe — just maybe — the end to the now-silly “are the Pirates for real?” talk.

Rangers 14, Angels 11: 1998 called and said it wants its final score back. Angels fans called and wants that last pitch from Daniel Stange back. The one he tossed to Leonys Martin, who hit the walkoff three-run homer.

Phillies 7, Giants 3: Philly finally wins a game, breaking their eight-game losing streak. Look for Ruben Amaro to give quotes today about how they are now competitive, followed by long-term contract extensions to Delmon and Michael Young and a trade for Vernon Wells.

Tigers 5, Nationals 1: Alex Avila hit a grand slam. But the biggest hit of the night came from Dave Dombrowski picking up Jose Iglesias as part of the Jake Peavy trade. He’s gonna look awfully good at short for the Tigers. Rick Porcello and Doug Fister may go and pick him up at the airport, actually.

Braves 11, Rockies 3: Two homers for Freddie Freeman as the Braves extend their division lead to a whopping ten games. Note: the Braves have not lost a game since they opened a Waffle House at Turner Field. This is a simple fact.

Dodgers 3, Yankees 2: Mark Ellis with the walkoff single. He’s hitting .415 with a homer and eight RBIs since the break. The Dodgers extended their NL West lead to three and a half games.

Orioles 4, Astros 3: Chris Davis hit his first homer since the All-Star break. If you believe some of my commenters and friends on Twitter, this is clear evidence that he stopped using steroids at the break and began again yesterday afternoon at, oh, 4pm. People are dumb.

Indians 7, White Sox 4: A four-run eighth inning keyed by a Ryan Raburn pinch hit RBI single. The Indians have won nine in a row at home.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 2: Brandon Workman gets his first win, striking out nine in six innings of work, on the night that the Sox pick up Jake Peavy.  Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run homer.

Mets 4, Marlins 2: Zack Wheeler took a no-hitter into the seventh but he allowed the Fish to tie it up that inning. The bullpen held after that, however, and John Buck hit an RBI single in the 10th to win it.

Rays 5, Diamondbacks 2: Fauxsto Caromona pitched a complete game and Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar each drove in a pair. Tampa Bay maintains its half-game lead in the AL East.

Brewers 6, Cubs 5Brewers 3, Cubs 2: Brewers sweep the twin-bill. Glad of that actually. Not for them, really, but that one of the teams won both games. As I’ve been saying for years, there is little more pointless in the world than a split doubleheader between non-contending teams. Inquiring about its significance is like a philosophical question from a depressed philosopher.

Royals 7, Twins 2: Two homers from Mike Moustakas and seven solid innings from the now apparently not-selling Kansas City Royals. Seven back in the Central and five back in the wild card race.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 0: Mark Buehrle with seven shutout innings, extending his scoreless innings streak to 20.  Jose Bautista and Emilio Bonifacio each homered.

Padres 4, Reds 2: That’s five straight losses for the Reds, who need to get the heck back home. Nick Hundley’s two-run double in the eighth made the difference. Will Venable went 3 for 3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI.

It’s trade deadline day, babies. Keep it locked on HBT and you won’t miss a thing.

Columnist calls for Sammy Sosa to “come clean.” He probably shouldn’t.

15 Sep 1998:  A silhouette portrait of Sammy Sosa #21of the Chicago Cubs taken in the dug-out as he looks across the field during the game against the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Park in San Diego, California. The Cubs defeated the Padres 4-2
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Yesterday Sammy Sosa — quite ridiculously — compared himself to Jesus Christ. The idea: he has suffered greatly since retirement, having been shunned by the Cubs and disparaged by the baseball establishment and . . . well, I don’t know how that makes him Jesus, but forget it, he’s rolling.

Today, predictably, a Chicago columnist does what columnists have been doing for years with respect to guys suspected of PED use: argues that Sosa should “come clean” if he wants to come in from the cold. Here’s David Haugh of the Tribune:

The game welcomed back Barry Bonds and McGwire from steroid exile after both separately acknowledged their involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. Fox Sports employs Alex Rodriguez, who admitted to PED use during his career. The door back to baseball is open for Sosa, but only if he follows the same path his contemporaries from the steroid era did. The Cubs have made this clear to Sosa, in no uncertain terms, yet he continues to paint himself as the victim.

This is not accurate. Bonds has never “come clean” about his PED use. He was in litigation over it until 2015 and wasn’t giving any confessionals about it. When the Marlins hired him he said nothing. He made allusions to being “an idiot” in an interview last summer, but that was clearly focused on his cagey attitude, not his drug use. There was no deal with the Marlins that his job was prefaced on his “coming clean,” and he never did.

The same can be said for McGwire. Big Mac was hired by the Cardinals as a hitting coach on October 26, 2009. His acknowledgment of PED use came months later, just before spring training in January 2010. While it may be plausible that the Cardinals told McGwire that they would not hire him absent a confession of PED use, that’s not how it tracked in real time. At his hiring, John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt each said there was no set blueprint for how McGwire would proceed as far as his public statements went and they allowed him to control the timeline. His confession seemed to be very much a function of heading off spring training distractions and questions from the press which would have access to him everyday, not some precondition of his employment.

But even if we grant the apparently erroneous premise that Bonds and McGwire “came clean” to return to baseball’s good graces, such a road map is of no use to Sosa. He’s not looking to coach or, as far as we know, even be employed by a club. If the study we talked about four years ago remains accurate, coming clean about PED use makes an athlete look worse in the eyes of the public than those who deny. Ask David Ortiz how that works. It likewise will do nothing for his Hall of Fame vote totals. Ask McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro how that works.

Sosa may be engaging in some unfortunate hyperbole, but as far as can be determined, he’s not asking for a whole hell of a lot. He’s not asking for a coaching job or to have his number retired or for them to rename Wrigley Field after him. He’s asking to be acknowledged as a part of Cubs history. He’s asking for the same kind of treatment other retired greats receive from time to time. A first pitch? A public appearance or two? Some minor role as a team ambassador? The bar for that isn’t very high.

The Cubs, who benefited greatly from Sosa’s production — and, necessarily, by whatever juicing Sosa did to achieve it — aren’t being asked to do much. Just to be decent to a person who is an important part of their history. That should not require that Sosa give a weepy interview about steroids which will serve no one’s purpose but the tut-tutting media. A media which, if McGwire’s example is any guide, will still slam Sosa if he comes clean and claim that his confession wasn’t good enough and his contrition wasn’t genuine. If he does confess, bank on that reaction. Bet the mortgage on it.

All of which makes me wonder if it’s the media, and not the Cubs who are the ones who really want to see such a thing.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.