And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 3, Tigers 2: If only there was some form of technology that could rectify bad calls. Some magical device that could allow officials to see what really happened on a baseball field when the umpires miss it. A bit of sorcery that could put right what was wrong and prevent a game from being decided on a blown call. Sadly, no such thing exists, despite all of the efforts of our men and women of science. So, alas, the Rangers win on a blown call.

Diamondbacks 6, Braves 4: Randall Delgado issued a bases loaded walk and then a grand slam to Gerardo Parra in the second inning and that would be all Arizona needed. The Dbacks snap their five-game skid and salvage one in what had been a ghastly series against the Braves.

Padres 6, Phillies 1: Nick Hundley tripled, homered and drove in four. I don’t have time to go run the numbers right now, but I assume that that alone is more offense than the Phillies have mustered since the season began.

White Sox 7, Mariners 4: Ichiro Suzuki singled in the first, so no perfect game in this one. Umpire Tim Mcclelland had to be restrained from saying Ichiro struck out on the single, though. And then no one showed the replay and no one talked about it. Huh.

Reds 4, Cubs 3: From the AP game story:

Aroldis Chapman came on to strike out Ian Stewart looking with a fastball that registered 99 miles per hour on the stadium scoreboard, preserving the lead.

I’ve only been there once and it was like 12 years ago, but I was kinda surprised that Wrigley had gun readings on a scoreboard somewhere. These sorts of things elude me.

Athletics 5, Indians 1: Justin Masterson, the Indians Opening Day starter, continues to struggle, giving up four runs on six hits in five innings. Seth Smith and Cliff Pennington each drove in a couple.

Rockies 4, Brewers 1: Ryan Braun got his MVP plaque awarded to him before the game. That and 50 cents gets you a pack of Certs,apparently, because a Michael Cuddyer RBI double in the eighth and a Carlos Gonzalez RBI single in the ninth put the Rockies over the top.

Orioles 3, Angels 2: Nick Markakis supplied all of the Orioles’ offense, in the eighth and the tenth innings. The O’s are at 9-6 tied with the Rays a half game back of New York and Toronto. Yeah, it’s too early for that kind of standings watching, but it’s kinda fun to say it, ain’t it?

Astros 12, Dodgers 0: L.A got whupped. Jordan Schafer hit a grand slam. Wandy Rodriguez threw seven three-hit shutout innings.

Blue Jays 5, Royals 3: Rickey Romero was solid (8 IP, 5 H 2 ER), Brett Lawrie stole home on a delayed double steal and Kansas City has lost ten in a row. Yikes.

Rays 6, Twins 2: First sentence of the AP recap:

The Minnesota Twins are becoming concerned with Francisco Liriano’s struggles.

This is not a repeat from any year since 2006.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 1: How is Kyle Lohse doing this year? Well, he gave up one run over seven innings and his ERA actually went up. From 0.89 to 0.99.

I will now sell five copies of The Three E.P.’s by The Beta Band:

Yankees vs. Red Sox: POSTPONED: I asked him time again …

Marlins vs. Nationals: POSTPONED: Take me in and dry the rain …

Giants vs. Mets: POSTPONED: Take me in and dry the rain, take me in and dry the rain, take me in and dry the rain, the rain the rain the rain now.

Rob Manfred offers little insight, shows contempt for reporters in press conference

Rob Manfred
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke at a press conference, addressing the Astros cheating scandal and other topics on Sunday evening. It did not go well.

To start, the press conference was not broadcast officially on MLB’s own TV channel (it aired the 1988 movie Bull Durham instead), nor could any mention to it or link to the live stream be found anywhere on MLB.com. When the actual questions began, Manfred’s answers were circuitous or simply illogical given other comments he has made in the past. On more than one occasion, he showed contempt for reporters for doing their jobs — and, some might argue, doing his job — holding players and front office personnel accountable.

Last month, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal broke a story about the Astros’ “dark arts” and “Codebreaker” operation, based on a letter Manfred sent to then-GM Jeff Luhnow. Diamond was among the reporters present for Manfred’s press conference on Sunday. Per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Manfred addressed Diamond, saying, “You know, congratulations. You got a private letter that, you know, I sent to a club official. Nice reporting on your part.” MLB’s response to the depth of the Astros’ cheating ways was lacking and, without Diamond’s reporting, we would have known how deeply lacking that response was. It is understandable that Manfred would be salty about it, since it exposed him as doing his job poorly, but it was an immature, unrestrained response from someone in charge of the entire league.

Onto the actual topic at hand, Manfred said he felt like the punishment doled out to the Astros was enough. Per Chris Cotillo, Manfred said Astros players “have been hurt by this” and will forever be questioned about their achievements in 2017 and ’18. Some players disagree. Former pitcher Phil Hughes even suggested the players have a work stoppage over this issue.

Manfred defended his decision not to vacate the Astros’ championship, saying, “The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act.” The commissioner devaluing the meaning of a championship seems… not great? Counterintuitive, even? The “piece of metal” is literally called the Commissioner’s Trophy. Manfred went on to brag about the league having “the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty.” Be careful, don’t hurt yourself patting yourself on the back for doing the bare minimum.

Manfred said there was no evidence found that the Astros used buzzers and added that, since the players were given immunity, he doesn’t think they would continue to hide that when asked about it. He said, “I think in my own mind. It was hard for me to figure out why they would tell us, given that they were immune, why they would be truthful and admit they did the wrong thing and 17, admit they did the wrong thing and 18, and then lie about what was going on in 19.”

The commissioner expects the league to implement “really serious restrictions” on access to in-game video feeds for the 2020 season.

There has been some recent back-and-forth between the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Astros’ Carlos Correa. Manfred isn’t a fan of the sniping through the media. He said, “I’m sort of a civil discourse person. It must be because I’m old. But, yeah, I think that the back and forth that’s gone on is not healthy.” The reason Bellinger and others are speaking publicly about the issue, attempting to hold the Astros accountable, is because the league did not do a sufficient job doing that itself. Bellinger wouldn’t feel the need to speak up in defense of himself, his teammates, and other players affected by the cheating scheme if he felt like the league had his and his peers’ backs.

Because the players involved in the Astros’ cheating scheme weren’t punished, some — like Larry Bowa — have suggested intentionally throwing baseballs at Astros players to exact justice. Manfred met with managers who were in attendance today to inform them that retaliatory beanballs “will not be tolerated.” He added, “It’s dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation.” Manfred has done nothing about beanball wars in the past, but it will now give the Astros somewhat of an advantage since pitchers will now be judged closely on any pitch that runs too far inside on Astro hitters.

Manfred also spoke about the ongoing feud with Minor League Baseball and basically reiterated what he and the rest of the league have disingenuously been saying since it was revealed MLB proposed cutting 42 minor league teams. Manfred’s talking point is that MLB is concerned about substandard facilities being used by minor league players, but not all of the 42 teams on the proposed chopping block have anything close to what could reasonably be considered substandard.

Lastly, Manfred was asked about the Orioles and tanking, and more or less danced around the issue by expressing confidence in the club’s ownership. The Orioles have won 47 and 54 games in the past two seasons. Payroll dropped by more than $50 million. The Orioles saw over 250,000 fewer fans in attendance in 2019 than in ’18. The O’s also saw a decline of over 460,000 fans in attendance from 2017 to ’18. But, yeah, it’s going well.

All in all, this press conference could not have gone worse for Manfred. The press found it condescending and the comments he made rang hollow to the players. Manfred seemed on edge and unprepared addressing arguably the biggest controversy baseball has faced since the steroid era. This is a dark time for the sport.