And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 9, Red Sox 6: Just your standard seventeen inning affair in which a first baseman is the winning pitcher, after throwing two shutout innings and and outfielder is the losing pitcher after giving up a three-run homer . Chris Davis shut out the Red Sox for the 16th and 17th innings, striking out two. Of course he did. Darnell McDonald gave up a three-run homer to Adam Jones. Of course he did. J.J. Hardy had two homers. The game took six hours and seven minutes. Mercy.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3: Albert Pujols hit a homer, so we can quit keeping track of that I suppose. Guess now we can see how long it takes for his average to get above the Mendoza Line.

Indians 4, Rangers 2: Yu Darvish struck out eleven Indians but still got the loss because, strikeouts aside, walking four and giving up six hits in six innings while throwing 112 pitches isn’t a study in efficiency. The Indians three-run third inning started when a Johnny Damon popup fell in after getting lost in the sun. Here’s Darvish, after the game through an interpreter:

“If the ball goes into the sun, what can you do?”

I’d like to think that he listened to “A Saucerful of Secrets” right before this game, but I kinda doubt it.

Braves 7, Rockies 2: The sweep. What a nutso series. I thought they had a humidor or something, but by the time yesterday’s game got started I was totally of the mindset that a six run deficit didn’t matter any. Overall the Braves scored 29 runs in this three-game series. On the pitching side, some order was restored in this one with Brandon Beachy allowing only a couple of runs in six and a third.

Marlins 6, Padres 3: Tied at two until the Fish put up a four-run eighth inning. Thankfully, however, the Padres scored one in the bottom of the inning, creating a save situation and allowing us to watch someone besides Heath Bell handle the ninth. Edward Mujica gets the save.

Mariners 5, Twins 2:  Hector Noesi took a shutout into the seventh and Jesus Montero hit a two-run double. If you told this to a Yankees fan a year ago …

Cardinals 8, Astros 1: Tyler Greene hit two homers, the Cardinals salvaged one in the series and, more importantly, Adam Wainwright looked good, with good command for really the first time all season.

Yankees 10, Royals 4: Robinson Cano hit a grand slam, Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run shot and Nick Swisher hit a solo homer, breaking the Yankees offense out of a slump. We knew the offense was going to figure it out soon enough. We were less sure of Phil Hughes, but he turned in his best start of the season, allowing three runs over six and two thirds and striking out seven.

Reds 5, Pirates 3: This is why the Reds traded so much talent for Mat Latos: six innings, two hits, no runs and eleven strikeouts.

Athletics 9, Rays 5: Of course Brandon Inge hit a three-run homer and drove in four. We all know he’d do that against Matt Moore. Who we also predicted would give up eight runs.  We all talked about this during the big pregame show. It was my Master Lock “Lock of the Week.”

Mets 3, Diamondbacks 1: R.A. Dickey was on point (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER). Assuming knuckleballers have points. I think of them as having weird concave places and a lot of swirly bits.

Giants 4, Brewers 3: Matt Cain struck out ten in seven innings but the bullpen couldn’t hold the one-run lead. Tim Dillard walked two and gave up two hits to blow the game in the 11th. Because — all together now! — you can’t use your closer in a tie game on the road!

Tigers 3, White Sox 1: The Tigers offense still isn’t clicking, but solo homers by Austin Jackson, Prince Fielder and Andy Dirks were all Rick Porcello (6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) and four relievers needed to take care of the Sox.

Cubs 4, Dodgers 3: A walkoff walk to David DeJesus in the 11th. By the way: is it just me, or are there an inordinate number of extra inning games this year? Seems like a lot. Someone who has some research-fu, tell me if I’m nuts.

Phillies 9, Nationals 3: True fact: Natitude is still only 66.6% effective. Hunter Pence had four RBI.  Cole Hamels allowed one run in eight innings and struck out eight. And likely got himself a suspension for admitting that he’s kind of a  jerk.

Nick Markakis: ‘I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?’

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Earlier today, the Braves inked veteran outfielder Nick Markakis to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a club option for the 2020 season worth $6 million with a $2 million buyout. Though Markakis is 35 years old, he’s coming off of a terrific season in which he played in all 162 games and hit .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs and 93 RBI in 705 trips to the plate. Markakis had just completed a four-year, $44 million contract, so he took a substantial pay cut.

Per David O’Brien of The Athletic, Markakis asked his kids where they wanted him to play and they said Atlanta. O’Brien also asked Markakis about the pay cut. The outfielder said, “I’m not mad at all. I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?”

This seemingly innocuous comment by Markakis is actually damaging for his peers and for the union. Baseball as a game is indeed a “kids’ game,” but Major League Baseball is a billion-dollar business that has been setting revenue records year over year. The players have seen a smaller and smaller percentage of the money MLB makes since the beginning of the 2000’s. Furthermore, Markakis only gets paid “a lot of money” relative to, say, a first-year teacher or a clerk at a convenience store. Relative to the value of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, and relative to the value of Major League Baseball itself, Markakis’s salary is a drop in the ocean.

That Markakis is happy to take a pay cut is totally fine, but it’s harmful for him to publicly justify that because it creates the expectation that his peers should feel the same way and creates leverage for ownership. His comments mirror those who sympathize first and foremost with billionaire team owners. They are common arguments used to justify paying players less, giving them a smaller and smaller cut of the pie. Because Markakis not only took a pay cut but defended it, front office members of the Braves as well as the 29 other teams can point to him and guilt or shame other players for asking for more money.

“Look at Nick, he’s a team player,” I envision a GM saying to younger Braves player who is seeking a contract extension, or a free agent looking to finally find a home before spring training. “Nick’s stats are as good as yours, so why should you make more money than him?”

Contrast Markakis’s approach with Yasmani Grandal‘s. Grandal reportedly turned down a four-year, $60 million contract offer from the Mets early in the offseason and settled for a one-year, $18.25 million contract with the Brewers. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Grandal said on MLB Network, “I felt like part of my responsibility as a player was to respect the guys that went through this process before I did. Guys like Brian McCann, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina, These are guys who established markets and pay levels for upper-tier catchers like me. I felt like I was doing a disservice if I were to take some of the deals that were being thrown around. I wanted to keep the line moving especially for some of the younger guys that are coming up … to let them know, if you’re worthy, then you should get paid what you’re worth. That’s where I was coming from.”

Grandal’s comments are exactly what a member of a union should be saying, unapologetically. The MLBPA needs to get all of its members on the same page when it comes to discussing contracts or labor situations in general publicly. What Markakis said seems selfless and innocent — and I have no doubt he is being genuine without malice — but it could reduce the bargaining power players have across the table from ownership, which means less money. They are already being bamboozled, at least until the next collective bargaining agreement. They don’t need to be bamboozled any more.