And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Athletics 5, Royals 4: Jonathan Broxton walked two batters and hit two batters to blow the game in the 12th inning. That, my friends, is how you blow a save. Without doubt and with authority. None of this pussyfooting around with grounders that just get past an infielder. Decisive action brings order to a world full of chaos.

Rockies 17, Giants 8: Tim Lincecum was beat up for the second straight start, and this time it wasn’t just a minor beating. The Rockies touched the Giants’ ace for six runs in two and a third innings — his shortest outing ever — opening the floodgates for Colorado. He got a no-decision thanks to some equally-bad Rockies pitching, but then the bullpen gave up ten runs and that was that. The Rockies rapped out 22 hits overall, eight of which were doubles and three of which were triples. Lincecum’s struggles have to be concerning in the extreme to anyone who gives a crap about the Giants.

Brewers 2, Cubs 1: Castro kicked off the scoring with a sac fly in the first, but no one else on the Cubs wanted to associate themselves with Castro in this highly-charged environment, so he was the only Cub with an RBI. Yovani Gallardo induced approximately 126 ground balls and didn’t break much of a sweat in this one.

Rays 4, Tigers 2: Justin Verlander had a one-hitter going and had thrown a mere 81 pitches when the ninth inning began. He threw 23 more in the game without escaping it. A couple of singles and a walk chased him when it was tied 2-2 and Daniel Schlereth was called on for some reason. He walked another guy and Jose Valverde let two score on a Ben Zobrist single. Seeing Verlander go from nearly untouchable to watching singles squirt through here and there was one of the more unexpected things of the young season so far.

Phillies 7, Marlins 1: The Roy Halladay vs. Josh Johnson battle everyone was anticipating was decidedly one-sided. Doc threw seven innings of one-run ball and Johnson couldn’t get out of the fourth after allowing six runs on 11 hits. Every position player got a hit for Philadelphia, five of them got two or more.

Padres 2, Diamondbacks 1: Aww, Arizona finally loses a game. They were the last undefeated team in baseball before last night. So, per tradition, the survivors from the last undefeated baseball team will all now crack open their celebratory bottles of champagne, toasting the endurance of their lasting achievement.

Twins 6, Angels 5: Yes, the Twins won, but let us all take a moment and acknowledge that Peter Bourjous is one fast s.o.b. Check out his inside the park homer. Wait for the replay that sticks on him as he’s running the bases. He doesn’t even really start running hard until he’s in between first and second base. And there still was no play at the plate. What happens if he’s running hard out of the box?  Two times around the bases? Mercy.

Nationals 4, Mets 0: I guess it was getaway day for home plate umpire Larry Vanover too, because the pitching staffs combined for 25 strikeouts. Terry Collins was ejected when he’d seen all he could stand of a zone that had dudes being punched out on balls thrown over the opposite batter’s box. Johan Santana was effective but not efficient. Stephen Strasburg was both, and he got the win.

Yankees 6, Orioles 4: The second extra innings game in a row for these two. Nick Swisher’s two-run shot in the 10th ended up winning it.

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 1: Rickey Romero shut the Red Sox down. Boston didn’t even have a hit after the third inning. And now they go back to Boston with a 1-5 record. Which is one win better than they were through six games last year, but don’t anyone mention it because that screws up the whole panic thing.

Reds 4, Caridnals 3: Joey Votto had four hits and scored the winning run when Chris Heisey singled him home in walkoff fashion. Aroldis Chapman struck out five dudes in two innings of relief work to get the win. Can someone tell me why he’s not starting?

White Sox 10, Indians 5: A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer and drove in four as the White Sox pulled away with a five-spot in the sixth inning. The Indians bullpen and offense have been a big problem in the early going, but Manny Acta is not worried:

“Five games is not going to make me panic about my bullpen, my offense, defense or anything like that,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We have to give it a little more time.”

Then he can panic.

Braves 6, Astros 3: Jason Heyward had a night, as he goes 3 for 4 with two RBI and a homer. The big guy has started the year off hot, which is exactly what the Braves need if they have a shot at contention.

Mariners 4, Rangers 3: The M’s rallied after finding themselves down 3-0 entering the eighth inning, scoring one that inning and capping it off with three runs off Joe Nathan in the ninth. In other news, Kevin Millwood has had a fork stuck in his back several times over the past decade, but he always seems to find a way to remove it. After missing most of last season, he begins 2012 by giving up a mere one run on six hits to one of the best offenses in the game. He didn’t get the win — thanks Steve Delabar! — but he was solid.

Dodgers 4, Pirates 1: The Dodgers are now 5-1, thanks in part to Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera, each of whom had three hits. Chad Billingsley was strong again too, allowing only one run over six.

The Astros continue to refuse to take responsibility for the Taubman Affair

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I’m calling it the “Taubman Affair” because writing “the incident in which a top front office executive — Astros Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman — taunted a reporter for her past opposition to the team acquiring a domestic abuser, after which the team lied, aggressively about it, accusing another reporter of fabricating a story, then admitted that they lied but made no apology for smearing the reporter” is too unwieldy for a headline.

If you need catching up on it, though, you can read this, this or this.

The latest on it all: yesterday, after walking back their angry denial that the incident ever occurred and admitting that, yes, Taubman did in fact gleefully and profanely target a reporter for taunting, the team basically went silent and let Game 1 unfold.

Today General Manager Jeff Luhnow went on a team-friendly radio station (i.e. the station that broadcasts Astros games). In the entire segment he was asked only one question about it: “Your thoughts on the SI article, Jeff.” Luhnow said that he would withhold comment, but apologized to “everybody involved,” including the fans and the players, saying “this situation should have never happened.” You can listen to the entire segment here.

He did not, however, make any specific mention of what “this situation” was. Nor did he acknowledge that, actually, it’s at least two “situations:” (1) the initial behavior of Taubman; and (2) Monday night’s team-sanctioned attack of Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, who reported it. Indeed, at no time in the team’s now multiple comments has anyone acknowledged that, as an organization, the Houston Astros’s first impulse in all of this was to attempt to bully and discredit a reporter for what has now been established as a truthful report to which the Astros have admitted. And they certainly have not voiced any specific regret or offered any form of accountability for it.

Major League Baseball is apparently investigating Taubman’s conduct. But it is not, presumably, investigating the Astros’ disingenuous smear of Apstein. A smear that the Astros likely undertook because they figured they could intimidate Apstein and, what may even be worse, because they assumed that the rest of the press — many of whom were witnesses to Taubman’s act — would go along or remain silent. If they did not think that, of course, releasing the statement they did would’ve been nonsensical. It speaks of an organization that believes it can either bully or manipulate the media into doing its bidding or covering for the teams’ transgressions. That part of this has gone wholly uncommented on by the Astros and apparently will for the foreseeable future. No matter how this shakes out for Taubman, if the Astros do not talk about how and why they decided to baselessly attack Apstein on Monday night, nothing they ever say should be trusted again.

More broadly, everything the Astros are doing now is the same as when they traded for Roberto Osuna in the first place.

In 2018 they wanted to do an unpopular thing — arbitrage a player’s domestic violence suspension into the acquisition of cheap relief help — while wanting to appear as though they were good actors who had a “zero tolerance for domestic violence” policy. To solve that problem they shoveled a lot of malarkey about how “zero tolerance” actually includes a fair amount of tolerance and hoped that everyone would go along. When not everyone did — when fans brought signs of protest to the ballpark or expressed their displeasure with Osuna’s presence on the roster — they confiscated them then hoped it’d all blow over and, eventually, via Taubman’s rant on Saturday night, lashed out at their critics.

Here, again, they want to do something unpopular: retain a boorish and insensitive executive in Taubman without him or the team suffering any consequences for it, be they actual consequences or mere P.R. fallout. Again, it’s kind of hard to pull that off, so to do so they falsely accused a reporter of lying and then circled the wagons when they caught heat for it.

I have no idea how long they plan to keep this up. Maybe they are calculating that people will forget and that forgetting is the same as forgiveness. Maybe they simply don’t care. All I do know is that folks will be teaching the Astros’ response to all of this as a counterexample in crisis management courses for years.