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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rays 3, Marlins 1: You know how people talk about “the song of the summer?” In baseball we have the “injury of the summer.” A few years ago — I think it was the summer Pharrell’s “Happy” was all the rage — all the ballplayers tore their oblique muscles. I don’t know what the song of the summer for 2017 is yet, but the injury is the blister. Here Edinson Volquez left early with a blister. Alex Cobb, also suffering from a blister, managed six scoreless innings. I think I’ve written the word “blister” more this season than I have in any season since I started covering baseball. Anyway, when asked for comment about his blister, Volquez said, “Here come bad news, talking this and that . . . Well, I should probably warn ya, I’ll be just fine. Cause I’m happy.”

Braves 9, Mets 7: R.A. Dickey beat Matt Harvey for the second time in less than a week. Asked after the game, Dickey said that he didn’t even have his best stuff: “on a scale of one to 10, I probably only had a four knuckleball.” I always assumed knuckleballs were judged weirdly, given their nature. Like, “on a scare of one to 10, my knuckleball was potato.” Oh well. Anyway, Jay Bruce drove in six runs in the losing cause. Ender Inciarte drove in three runs with three hits, but he had more help than Bruce did.

Cubs 8, Phillies 3: Javier Baez had four hits, including a triple and a homer, driving in three. Kris Bryant homered and tripled himself. Jon Lester wasn’t sharp — he walked five dudes — but allowed only three runs and did enough to snag the win. Joe Maddon didn’t hold the walks against Lester. He hated the strike zone, saying “There wasn’t a strike zone tonight, it was a ball zone . . . I don’t know what was going on.” I wish he had gone full meme with it and said “more like a BALL ZONE, amirite?” I mean, if you’re gonna be the hip dad like Maddon always seems like he wants to be you have to appropriate outdated memespeak, which will provide maximum embarrassment for your children. Believe me, I have a lot of experience in this.

Angels 6, Mariners 4: Albert Pujols hit an RBI double in the top of the 11th inning. Then the old man stole third base — how does anyone let that happen? Pujols barely has any feet at this point, right? They’re just fleshy stubs patched together with some sort of surgeon’s epoxy — and scored an insurance run on a fielder’s choice. His RBI put him past Al Simmons and Ted Williams on the all-time list. He’s now at 14th for his career, with 1,840 driven in. The Angels have won seven of eight.

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 5: Mat Latos gave up seven runs by the fourth inning and the rest was just details. Aaron Judge hit two more homers, bringing his season total to 12 — that’s a 78-homer pace — and Brett Gardner hit a couple himself. Aaron Hicks hit a homer too and Masahiro Tanaka, while not great, pitched into the seventh inning.

Diamondbacks 6, Nationals 3: Taijuan Walker was not fantastic himself, allowing three runs while walking five and not even lasting five innings, but the Arizona pen pitched four and two-thirds scoreless innings and the bats popped three long ones. The Nats, who have been scoring runs in buckets, stranded ten runners. That’s baseball.

Red Sox 5, Orioles 2: Drama galore in this one, including a standing ovation for Adam Jones, a Chris Sale pitch that went behind Manny Machado and a Machado postgame tirade against the Red Sox. Also a weird and sloppy triple play. Lost in all of this: Machado hitting a long homer off of Sale later in the game and Sale striking out 11 and allowing only two runs in eight innings.

Tigers 5, Indians 2: Miguel Cabrera came back and hit a two-run homer — the 450th of his career — and Justin Verlander allowed only two runs over seven. Corey Kluber pitched only three innings, leaving early with a sore back. That’s one worth watching.

Pirates 12, Reds 3: Josh Harrison hit a three-run homer and the Buccos’ starting pitcher, Tyler Glasnow (all together now) helped his own cause with a two-run single as the Pirates put together a six-run fifth inning. Harrison hit two homers on Monday night too. The Reds have lost 9 of 12. So, yeah, that brief moment in April when they looked kind of sexy was just a trick of the light.

Twins 9, Athletics 1: Ervin Santana struck out seven in six shutout innings and Brian Dozier jacked two out of the park. Also jacking balls out of the park for Minnesota: Miguel Sano, Jason Castro, Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer. I know it’s not even close to an appropriate time to watch the standings yet, but the Twins are 13-11 and only a half game out of first in the Central.

Astros 8, Rangers 7: Texas jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning but, unfortunately for them, we play nine in this game. Marwin Gonzalez hit two home runs, including a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth to bring the Astros back. They’ve come back from five-run deficits three times on the young season. Overall, they’ve come from behind in 12 games, leading the majors in Rasputins.

White Sox 6, Royals 0: Jose Quintana was brilliant, tossing eight shutout innings, allowing only four singles. He has suffered from a lack of run support so far this year but that wasn’t a problem here as he had an early four-run cushion. Royals starter Danny Duffy, meanwhile, has lost back-to-back starts to the White Sox, allowing 12 runs and 19 hits in nine and two-thirds over those two games. Kansas City has lost ten of eleven.

Cardinals 2, Brewers 1: Carlos Martinez allowed only one unearned run while pitching into the eighth, outdueling Wily Peralta, who allowed two over five and a third. Both Cardinals runs scored in the sixth, when Yadier Molina hit a sac fly and Kolten Wong singled in a run. Eric Thames was 0-for-4 and has gone six games without a homer. The baseball season is long, you guys, and everything evens out over that long, long time.

Dodgers 13, Giants 5: San Francisco scored four runs in the top of the second. Then the Dodgers put up six in the bottom half, outscoring the Giants 13-1 over remainder of the game. Yasiel Puig went 3-for-5 with four driven in, all on singles. Rookie Cody Bellinger hit a bases-loaded triple. Justin Turner and Franklin Gutierrez each added two RBI, and Gutierrez had a homer. The Dodgers have won 5 of 6.

Padres 6, Rockies 2Yangervis Solarte and Ryan Schimpf hit back-to-back home runs off Tyler Chatwood in the sixth inning. Manuel Margot hit a triple that could’ve been an inside the park homer if not for the fact that less-than-fleet-footed Trevor Cahill was running ahead of him. I mean, watch this. Makes me tired just watching Cahill.

Astros exemplify the player-unfriendly bent of analytics

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Even as recently as a decade ago, Sabermetrics was a niche interest among baseball fans. As various concepts began to gain acceptance in the mainstream, players slowly began to accept them as well. Players like Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke were hailed as examples of a new breed of player — one who marries his athleticism with the utilization of analytics. This year, much was made of certain players’ data-driven adjustments, including Daniel Murphy and J.D. Martinez. Both had great seasons as a result of focusing more on hitting more fly balls instead of ground balls and line drives.

Statistics can clearly benefit players. They can also be used against them, and not just by opposing players. The Astros, who are in the World Series for the first time since 2005, are a great example of this. The Astros spent a few years rebuilding after a complete overhaul of the front office, which included bringing in analytically-fluent Jeff Luhnow as GM after the 2011 season. That overhaul instilled so much confidence that, in 2014, Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter predicted that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series. He’s only four Astros wins away from being proven correct.

The Astros’ front office, though, took advantage of its players at various times throughout the process. Their success is owed, in part, to exploiting its players. On Twitter, user @chicken__puppet chained a few tweets together exemplifying this:

At its core, analytics is about optimization: getting the most bang for your buck. If you read Moneyball, you know this. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) quickly became synonymous with the field and $/WAR was a natural next step. Sabermetrics defaulted to ownership’s perspective, so highly-paid players who performed poorly were scorned. Cheap players who performed well were lauded.

It is no mere coincidence that once most front offices installed analytics departments, teams stopped handing out so many outrageous contracts to free agent first baseman/DH types. Instead, teams focused on signing their young players to long-term contract extensions to buy out their arbitration years ahead of time, ostensibly saving ownership and the team boatloads of money. Teams began to pay close attention to service time as well. Service time determines when a player becomes eligible for arbitration and free agency, so teams that are able to finagle their players’ service time can potentially delay that player’s free agency by a year. The Cubs tried to do this with third baseman Kris Bryant in 2015, as Craig wrote about.

There is a very real ethical component to covering and being a fan of Major League Baseball, despite the common plea to separate sports from politics. The Astros and Cubs aren’t the only ones exploiting their players; the Angels, for example, made some odd personnel choices earlier this season that happened to allow them to avoid paying some players incentive bonuses. Every front office, in one way or another, games the system because the system is set up to benefit ownership first and players second. And if the likes of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa can be taken advantage of so freely and openly, what hope does anyone else have?

Fans have been conditioned to group players and owners together as one group of rich people. In reality, the player earning $30 million has more in common with the office worker making $35,000 a year than with team owners. When fans hear about Correa making $507,500 instead of $550,000, or about free agent who wants a nine-figure contract, they wonder why he had the nerve to ask for so much money in the first place. We praise players, like Cliff Lee, who “leave money on the table.” Both the player and that fan, by virtue of existing and participating in this system, are locked in an eternal battle with those who cut their paychecks. Regardless of salary differences, the player deserves to benefit from the fruits of his labor as much as the office worker. Part of being a baseball fan should also include rooting for the players’ financial success and not just the owners’.

Praising the Astros for being smart and savvy will only create more incentive for other front offices to mimic these unethical behaviors. The whole theme of the World Series shouldn’t be about smart, analytically-inclined teams reaching the summit; it should in part be about teams getting ahead with a multitude of exploitative practices against their players.