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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Reds 10, Padres 3: Cincy was down 3-2 in the seventh when Scooter Gennett smacked a grand slam followed immediately by a Eugenio Suarez solo shot and that pretty much ended that. Zack Cozart and Joey Votto would add bombs in the eighth inning to add insult to injury.

Pirates 7, Tigers 5: Josh Bell hit his 20th homer of the year and drove in three. Gerrit Cole three runs on six hits in eight innings, his longest outing of the year. Detroit has lost five of six.

Nationals 3, Marlins 2: It was tied at two in the eighth when Brian Goodwin hit a long solo shot. Then, in the ninth, with the Marlins threatening, Dee Gordon hit a ball down the left field line that looked like it’d be trouble. Andrew Stevenson said “no problem” and ended the game with this nice catch:

Mets 10, Phillies 0: The Mets smacked four homers and Jacob deGrom tossed shutout ball into the seventh inning before being forced to leave when he was hit on the arm by a comebacker. Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto had three run blasts, Curtis Granderson hit a two-run shot and Wilmer Flores had a solo dong. Thank God there weren’t more homers. I’m running out of home run slang.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0: Marco Estrada tossed seven shutout innings, winning his first game in 13 starts. Ryan Tepera worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna closed the six-hitter out.

Rays 4, Indians 1: Chris Dickerson was 0-for his last 21 when he came to bat with two men on in the eighth. He broke that slump with a three-run homer that gave the Rays the win. They scored four runs here. They had scored only four runs in their previous five games.

Cardinals 8, Royals 6: That’s six wins in a row for St. Louis, this one powered by a Dexter Fowler grand slam in the seventh that broke a 3-3 tie. The Royals clawed back for three more runs in the eighth to make it close but the Cards held on. Fowler on his big blast: “Just looking for something to hit, something to drive.” And people ask me why I don’t cover more games in person.

White Sox 3, Astros 2: The American League’s best team gets swept by the American League’s worst team. Rookie Yoan Moncada homered to tie the game in the ninth and then walked it off with a single in the bottom of the 11th. Astros closer Ken Giles, who gave up that ninth inning homer: “I have to tip my cap to him. He put a good swing on it and drove it the other way.” Again, the level of original insight and comment being shared in these clubhouses after the game is staggering.

Twins 7, Brewers 2: That’s the fifth straight win for the Twins and the fifth straight loss for the Brewers, who have fallen into third place in the NL Central. Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer each had three singles as the Twins put up a three-spot in both the second and third innings. Keon Broxton homered in a losing cause.

Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 6: Yu Darvish struck out ten in five innings of work and enjoyed plenty of (needed) run support. The Dodgers take two of three. They have not lost a series since June 5-7, winning or tying 18 straight. Kiké Hernandez drove in three and Justin Turner drove in two.

Orioles 7, Athletics 2: Trey Mancini hit two homers, both solo shots, and Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo added ones of their own. Tim Beckham had two hits, including a triple. That gives him a hit in all ten games since he was acquired from the Rays. Some thought the former number one pick simply needed a change of scenery. I guess so. Meanwhile, Wade Miley allowed only one unearned run in seven innings, allowing only three hits and striking out seven. The Orioles have won nine of 13.

Angels 6, Mariners 3: Mike Trout hit a three-run double with two outs in the ninth inning of a game the Mariners had just tied with a three-run eighth. Even worse for the Mariners: ace James Paxton had to leave the game in the seventh with a strained pectoral muscle. He’ll have an MRI today, but you have to assume he’s going to miss a start or three, and that’s not going to be great for the M’s, who are in the thick of the Wild Card race.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.