You may recall that Orioles manager Buck Showalter made some pointed comments to USA Today last month about how the Yankees would benefit from Alex Rodriguez being suspended. For those unfamiliar, he said the following:
“If Bud lets them get away with that, they’re under the luxury tax. If they can reset, they can spend again, and I guarantee you in two years, Matt Wieters is in New York.”
While Showalter later said that he thought he was speaking off the record, MLB wasn’t too happy about it. According to David Waldstein of the New York Times, MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred placed a call to Orioles VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette to discuss the matter.
Manfred told him that the timing of Showalter’s comments, with the suspensions only days away, were not helpful and that there were many factors in play beyond what Showalter was aware of. He also wanted to make it clear that the issue was about Rodriguez, not a matter of letting the Yankees get away with anything.
Upon hearing about Manfred’s call, Showalter reached out to MLB commissioner Bud Selig to clear the air. The two “were said to have had a productive conversation.”
MLB obviously doesn’t want to give the impression that they are working to give the Yankees any sort of advantage, so it’s not surprising that they were peeved with the comments. But Showalter’s point remains relevant. If A-Rod’s suspension sticks, it will be a boon to the Yankees’ luxury tax situation.
Update (11:09 PM EDT):
From unlucky to lucky, the Cardinals maintained their position in the National League Wild Card race with walk-off victory over the Reds on Thursday night.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but saw the game tied when Scott Schebler dribbled a two-strike, two out ground ball down the third base line. It seemed as if the baseball gods had turned their backs on the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the ninth against reliever Blake Wood, Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk. Randal Grichuk then struck out, leaving all of the Cardinals’ hopes on Yadier Molina. Molina went ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a 95 MPH fastball to left field. The ball bounced high and over the left field fence for what seemed like an obvious ground-rule double. Carpenter motored around third base and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals poured onto the field in celebration and the umpires walked off the field. Manager Bryan Price wanted to have the play reviewed, but when he went onto the field, the umpires were nowhere to be found. Price chased after them but to no avail. As the Cardinals left the field and the stadium emptied, the Reds remained in the dugout. The Reds’ relievers were left in a bit of purgatory, standing aimlessly in left field after exiting the bullpen. Finally, the game was announced as complete over the P.A. system at Busch Stadium. The results are great if you’re a Cardinals fan, but terrible if you’re a Mets or Giants fan.
As Jon Morosi points out, the rules clearly state that the signage above the fence in left field is out of the field of play. The umpires got it wrong.
Price, however, also took too long to speak to the umpires. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If this happened between two teams playing a meaningless game, it would’ve been a lot easier to swallow, but Thursday’s Reds-Cardinals game had implications on not only the Cardinals’ future, but the Mets’ and Giants’ as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4 during Thursday’s win against the Phillies, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games. It marked the longest hitting streak of the 2016 season. Freeman’s streak of 46 consecutive games reaching base safely ended as well.
The longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history belongs to Dan Uggla, who hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 straight for the Boston Braves in 1945.
During his hitting streak, Freeman hit .384/.485/.670 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 136 plate appearances. That padded what were already very strong numbers on the season. After Thursday’s game, Freeman is overall batting .306/.404/.572 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI< and 101 runs scored in 677 plate appearances.