And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Dodgers 2, Giants 0: Chad Billingsley puts an end to L.A.’s skid by spinning a five-hit shutout of the Giants.  Good thing he went the distance too, because Don Mattingly was managing last night due to Joe Torre’s suspension and that way he didn’t need to make a mound visit.

Padres 6, Braves 4: Billy Wagner has been outstanding this year, but even he’s gonna get hit once in a while. Atlanta had a two-run lead heading into the ninth, but the Padres rallied and then plated two more in the 12th.  Can’t win ’em all and, hey, with Philly and New York seemingly losing ’em all, no harm, no foul.

Mariners 2, White Sox 1: A hell of a pitchers’ duel, as King Felix shuts out the Sox over eight innings and Gavin Floyd shuts down the M’s over seven.  The pens continued to put up blanks through the tenth innings. But Brandon League gave up an RBI single in the top of the 11th and Bobby Jenks — not to be outdone —  gave up a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.  Oh wait — I guess he was to be outdone.  Looks we’re back to a closer controversy in Chicago too, as Ozzie Gullen said after the game that “all options are open now” when it comes to who will close games for the Sox.

Cardinals 5, Phillies 1: See what I mean? Jaime Garcia shuts down the Phillies, but don’t worry, Philadelphia is totally the best team in the NL. You have to believe that too, because it was written in a newspaper.  As for the Cardinals, if what those irresponsible, rumor-mongering blogger heathens are saying is true, Garcia probably wouldn’t even get a start in the NLDS.

Diamondbacks 4, Mets 3: New York managed only seven runs in three games while getting swept by the lowly Dbacks. Even worse, they went scoreless in eight innings against the Dbacks’ pen last night, and that’s no easy thing to do. But hey, Oliver Perez pitched a scoreless inning and a third in relief!

Pirates 15, Brewers 3: Pedro Alvarez hits two homers for the second straight night. He’s good, no question, but it helps that the Brewers’ staff couldn’t get your momma out.

Marlins 5, Rockies 2: Every few weeks there’s a series that feels like it has lasted 11 days. That is the Florida-Colorado series. I know objectively that they’ve played only three games and have one more scheduled for today, but if you put a gun to my head and asked me how I really felt, I’d say they kicked off this series sometime last September. Florida has won four of five, by the way.

Tigers 4, Rangers 1: Max Scherzer threw seven scoreless innings to help the Tigers break the skid.  Ron Washington got to take a late night flight home from Detroit last night, he faces the division rival Angels tonight, and between now and game time has to schlep over to Fort Worth to testify in the Rangers’ bankruptcy hearing in which his boss Nolan Ryan has a direct personal stake in the outcome. No pressure, Ron.

Nationals 8, Reds 5: Strasburg gives up three runs on seven hits in five and two-thirds, but he struck out seven and that’s what the people came to see. And let’s cut the guy some slack: he was facing the best offense in the NL in that bandbox they call a home park.

Athletics 6, Red Sox 4: Clay Buchholz comes back and the results weren’t pretty: five runs on six hits in four innings and that was that. The Sox are 2-5 since the break.

Royals 5, Blue Jays 2: I know wins don’t matter, but I was getting tired of seeing Zack Greinke get undeserved losses and no-decisions earlier this year, so I am happy to report that yesterday he won for the fourth time in his last five starts.

Twins 6, Indians 0: I tried like hell to find it again and couldn’t, but I swear that yesterday that some writer passed along something he overheard in the Indians’ clubhouse to the effect of “I totally got Liriano’s number” or words to that effect. Whoever it was wasn’t in the lineup yesterday, because no one could touch the guy (7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER).

Yankees 10, Angels 6: Having Twitter up during a daytime Yankees game is kind of like torture. I love the passion in Yankees fans — really I do — but the degree to which they live and die on every pitch is exhausting enough for those disinterested people watching/reading them, so I have no idea how Yankees fans themselves don’t have heart attacks all the time. Javier Vazquez had a bad day and people freaked. Hideki Matsui hit a homer and people pined for him. Colin Curtis hit an improbable home run and people practically weeped with pride and joy.  It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just so . . . emotional.

Astros 4, Cubs 3: Ted Lilly and Brett Myers both help their trade stock by giving up a lone run over seven innings (well, Lilly was seven and a third), but neither got any run support so this one went 12. Geovany Soto wins it on a walkoff jack OK, I have no idea where that came from. Sleep deprivation, I guess. For those of you who aren’t paying attention, Soto is at .295/.412/.529 on the year with 13 dingers.

Rays 5, Orioles 4: For the second night in a row the Rays blew a four-run lead, but this time they held the line and went on to score one more in the sixth which proved to be the game winner. For the Orioles, Ty Wigginton hit his second home run in as many days. Yeah, I’m basically writing about the Orioles only insofar as they are the current receptacles of players who could be useful for other teams at the trade deadline. Wanna make something of it?

Astros owner Jim Crane says MLB ‘explicitly exonerated’ him

Jim Crane
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Even during a pandemic, the Astros can’t seem to avoid putting their foot in their mouth. Per The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, Astros owner Jim Crane claimed in a legal filing on Monday that Major League Baseball “explicitly exonerated” him in the club’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal that resulted in a now-tainted championship.

Crane is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former pitcher Mike Bolsinger, whose last appearance in the majors was on August 4, 2017 against the Astros. He faced eight batters, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning. Bolsinger accused the Astros of unfair business practices, negligence, and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations arising out of the sign-stealing scandal. Bolsinger is seeking damages for himself as well as for the Astros to forfeit the nearly $31 million in bonuses earned from winning the championship in 2017, asking for the money to be reallocated to children’s charities and retired players in need of financial assistance.

Commissioner Rob Manfred did not use the word “exonerated” in his report on the league’s investigation into the Astros’ cheating scheme. Manfred did, however, write, “At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested.”

Saying that the league found “no evidence” that Crane was involved and patting Crane on the back for not obstructing the investigation is not the same was “explicitly exonerating” him. The Athletic asked MLB if it agreed with Crane’s characterization of the report. Rather than agreeing with Crane, the league simply said, “All of our comments about the investigation are included in the report.”

This isn’t the first legal filing in which the Astros made a questionable claim. Recently, Astros lawyers claimed the organization expressed “sincere apologies and remorse for the events described in the report by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

In Monday’s filing, Astros lawyers swung at Bolsinger, citing his poor pitching performance overall in 2017. They wrote, “Plaintiff wants to have a California judge and jury literally call ball and strikes, and award him money damages based on rank conjecture about what might have happened to him in Houston on August 4, 2017 due to alleged rules violations he speculates may have occurred that day.”

Astros lawyers also questioned the frequency of the club’s cheating and its impact, writing, “Major League Baseball (‘MLB’) investigated alleged rule violations by the Astros related to sign-stealing, resulting in a January 13, 2020 report in which the Commissioner of Baseball expressly found that ‘it is impossible to determine whether the (Astros’) conduct actually impacted the results on the field. The MLB did not conclude that sign-stealing violations occurred in every game or even most at-bats in the 2017 season.”

Astros fan Tony Adams, who analyzed every home game during the 2017 regular season and posted the results on SignStealingScandal.com, found that there were 54 “bangs” on August 4 when Bolsinger pitched against the Astros. That was the highest total among all Astros home games that season. Bolsinger entered in the middle of the fourth inning, first facing Yuli Gurriel. Adams found three bangs — all on curve balls — in a plate appearance that ended in a walk. Adams found four more bangs — all on breaking balls — in a Brian McCann at-bat later that inning that also ended in a walk. Bolsinger then gave up a single to Tyler White, with trash can banging on a cut fastball and a curve. The next batter, Jake Marisnick, singled as well, hearing bangs on a cutter and a curve. Bolsinger finally got out of the inning when Bregman swung at a first-pitch curve (yes, there was a trash can bang for that) and flied out.

Importantly, Bolsinger’s lawyer notes that Crane’s motion makes MLB eligible for discovery. It is already eligible for discovery in New York federal court where the league is a defendant in a lawsuit brought by daily fantasy sports contestants. Bolsinger’s lawsuit is brought out of California state court. The Astros want Bolsinger’s lawsuit dismissed or at least moved to Texas.

Because the Astros can’t seem to stop making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this whole situation figures to get even more wild as time goes on. Due to discovery, we may end up learning even more about the Astros’ cheating ways than the league may have let on in their report on their investigation.