Settling the Score: Saturday’s results

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It only seems right to use this space to update the situation in the National League Central — baseball’s tightest divisional race by far here in late 2013.

Shelby Miller allowed just three hits and one earned run over seven innings and Carlos Beltran slugged his 23rd home run of the season Saturday as the Cardinals won their third straight game 6-2 over the Braves. Out in San Francisco, the Pirates fell 6-3 to the Giants after a rare poor start from left-hander Francisco Liriano. That leaves us with a tie for first place between two 76-53 teams with a little over a month to go. And don’t sleep on the Reds either.

Cincinnati pulled out a 4-2 win over the Brewers on Saturday at Great American Ball Park behind Chris Heisey, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart home runs. The Reds are 2 1/2 games back.

Your Saturday box scores and recaps:

Athletics 2, Orioles 1

Red Sox 4, Dodgers 2

Tigers 3, Mets 0

Twins 2, Indians 7

Rangers 2, White Sox 3

Nationals 7, Royals 2

Brewers 3, Reds 6

Blue Jays 5, Astros 8

Rockies 0, Marlins 3

Yankees 2, Rays 4

Braves 2, Cardinals 6

Diamondbacks 12, Phillies 7 (18 innings)

Cubs 3, Padres 2

Pirates 3, Giants 6

Angels 5, Mariners 1

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.