Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 14, White Sox 3: Ryan Raburn went 3 for 3 with a homer and five RBI. The Tribe put up a seven spot in the fifth inning in which the first nine batters who came to the plate reached. They keep pace with the Rays, who also won, and remain one and a half games back.

Rays 4, Red Sox 3: See, told you the Rays won. They avoid the sweep with the help of Wil Myers, who hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth. The Rays continue to lead the Yankees, who also won, by a single game.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: See, told you the Yankees won, though it wasn’t a laugher. They blew a 5-1 lead in the seventh and then came back and won on a wild pitch. They also lost Brett Gardner to a strained oblique. Still, they’re 12 games over .500 for the first time since May. Interesting: for the second time in a couple of weeks an essentially split Phil Hughes/David Huff “start” worked out. Perhaps the Yankees should continue having Huff caddy for Hughes. Or maybe they can get some mad scientist to forge a HughesHuff Golem/Cyborg or something and let them both pitch at once. Could be cool?

Braves 6, Marlins 1: Freddy Garcia made a spot start and pitched a wonderful game. Or, as Freddie Freeman put it afterwards, “Freddy wore the MVP pants today.” I wish I had some MVP pants. All I have are a pair of Detroit Tigers Zubaz. I call those my MVP pants. The girlfriend and kids call them my “don’t you dare put those on pants.” Philistines.

Athletics 8, Twins 2: Josh Reddick homered and had three RBI and A.J. Griffin was solid. Now: a three-game series against the Rangers. If the A’s take care of business in this one, they could, practically speaking, lock up the West.

Nationals 7, Mets 2: No one showed up for Aaron Harang’s Mets debut. No crowd, no offense, no nothing. He did strike out ten, though. Not that it mattered as Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos all homered and Tanner Roark and the Nats pen was stingy.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: Now the Angels are playing well. Better late then never, I suppose. The Blue Jays have the never, with the exception of that one blip in mid-season where, for about two weeks, they got all frisky. Anyway, arguably the most disappointing team in 2013 swept the other most disappointing team in 2013.

Pirates 3, Cubs 1: They needed that from Jeff Locke. He’s looked like garbage so often lately, but yesterday gave up one run on three hits in seven innings. The Pirates move into a tie for first place because …

Brewers 5, Cardinals 3: … The Cardinals’ five-game winning streak came to an end. Tyler Thronburg was solid for six innings. Sean Halton homered. I suppose some people in Milwaukee and their moms know who they are.

Phillies 10, Padres 5: Roy Halladay was not good at all, walking five and giving up five runs (four earned) in four and a third innings, but his lineup had no problems with the Padres. Carlos Ruiz drove in three.

Dodgers 3, Giants 2: Adrian Gonzalez with the game winning single in the 10th. The Dodgers could clinch the division against the Giants this weekend if everything breaks just right.

Russell Martin is not a fan of the automatic intentional walk

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being struck out in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it was announced that Major League Baseball instituted a new rule allowing for a dugout signal in order to issue an intentional walk rather than having the pitcher throw four pitches wide of the strike zone. It’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempt to help improve the game’s pace of play.

As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is certainly not a fan of the change.

My thing is, if they really want to speed up the game, then when a guy hits a home run, to speed up the game should a guy, just like in softball, when he hits it, should he just walk to the dugout? It’d be quicker. I’m just wondering, at what point do we just keep the game, the game? Or, how about this calculation: take all the intentional walks that were made in the last couple years and calculate – or maybe just ask to see if they have that information, to see if they really did their homework. Is it really that important to speed up the game (with this rule)? Because how many games did we play last year where we didn’t have one intentional walk? That’s something I’d like to know.

Martin also expressed concern that eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk will hurt teams’ ability to buy time for their relievers to warm up.

It’s called getting your bullpen ready so the guy doesn’t blow out his arm on the mound. Speed up the game, speed up the game.’ How about we just give guys – the human being – time to warm up on the mound after maybe something’s happened in the game? I’m not a manager, but I’m just trying to put myself in the position of a manager. OK, we’re up by one run or two runs and our bullpen’s been taxed and we’re trying to save their arms, and then the other team walks, ball gets away, guy gets to second base. When the coach visits the mound to talk to his player, it’s not like the player necessarily needs somebody to talk to him.

It’s because the guy (in the bullpen) needs time to warm up, man. It’s the same thing when you throw over to first base, like, eight times in a row. It’s not like we’re trying to keep the guy close. The guy maybe has two stolen bases in 18 years. It’s because the guy needs time to warm up. At what point does that become a problem with guys warming up in the bullpen? Sometimes it’s just strategy to give guys a little bit of time to warm up.

The Jays’ backstop then said he’d prefer if Manfred were honest about the intent behind this rule change and others which have been proposed. Martin said, “Save it. I’m tired of hearing that same lame excuse all the time. Just be honest. If they’re honest about it, we’ll get over it. But don’t hide behind the fans.”

We should be hearing from a handful of players about the new intentional walk rule in the coming days. I can’t imagine the rule is very popular among the players.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.