St. Louis Cardinals Allen Craig hits a grand slam home run during the seventh inning of their National League MLB baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in St. Louis

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 8, Reds 6: Down 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Allen Craig launched his first career grand slam to rally the redbirds. Matt Holliday had a three run homer. The win puts the Cards a half game ahead of the Pirates in the Central. Cincinnati is three and a half back.

Dodgers 6, Cubs 2: Zack Greinke blanked Chicago into the ninth and retired the first two batters but then a double, a hit-by-pitch and a double ended his night one out shy of the shutout. Still, not too shabby. He added an RBI and raised his average to .340.

Royals 11, Rays 1: A makeup of a May Snowpocalypse game. This one, in contrast, featured a 93 degree starting temperature and Kansas City late August steam. Joe Maddon was ejected in the fourth for arguing balls and strikes, his team already down 5-0. I would bet my first born that 85% of his reason for doing that was to be “forced” into the air-conditioned clubhouse. This move is known in baseball circles as a “Bobby Cox Special.” Or at least it should be, because he pulled that one all the time.

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 2: Tallying up the future Hall of Famers’ nights: A-Rod hit his 650th homer, Jeter came back with an 0 for 3 night and Ichiro had a rare outfield error which led to a big inning for Toronto. Well, A-Rod probably won’t make the Hall of Fame but it’s not my fault that the voters are dumb. Jose Reyes walked and scored in the third and doubled and scored in the fifth. This was the Jays’ first win over New York after losing ten straight.

Phillies 2, Mets 1: Cliff Lee outdueled Zack Wheeler, tossing eight innings of one-run ball while striking out seven. It was his first win since early July. Not that that’s his fault. Still can’t get much run support.

Rockies 6, Giants 1: Juan Nicasio threw six shutout innings and added an RBI single and Todd Helton homered. Helton is three hits shy of 2,500 for his career.

Athletics 8, Tigers 6: Oakland kept getting a two run lead only to see the Tigers tie it. So then they changed things up by upping it to a four-run lead, which was too much for Detroit to overcome. Coco Crisp was 3 for 6 with a homer and a couple driven in. Miguel Cabrera hit his 43rd homer and drove in his 130th. His average actually went down a point to .359. Which — and I know this sounds kind of crazy — sounds higher than .360. Like, when I was a kid and I’d see an average in the .350s on baseball cards it seemed really high while something in the .360s seemed like — something else. Maybe because things start to seem unreal and comic-booky in the .360s? Maybe even numbers like sixes don’t have some visceral effect that odd numbers like fives? But it’s sort of like seeing a big loud muscle car pull up to a red light next to a finely-tuned sports car. You know the sports car is the superior machine, but the loud engine on the muscle car is more impressive on some weird level.

Um, sorry. I don’t know where that came from.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 1:  Brandon McCarthy got his first win since May, allowing only an unearned run in seven innings on five hits. Paul Goldschmidt tripled in a run and knocked in another on a fielder’s choice.

Astros 10, White Sox 8: Chris Carter had two homers and drove in four. Jordan Lyles — normally a starter — got the save. Houston had a five run lead at one point an lost it before powering back for the win. And I do mean powering: they hit five homers in all.

Rangers 8, Mariners 3: A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer an Alex Rios had two hits and drove in two. This box score also reminded me that Rios plays for the Rangers now. Every year there are one or two dudes who got dealt at the deadline who I totally forget got dealt. Rios is one this year.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.