And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 10, Phillies 5: Cliff Lee was OK in his return, but he was on a pitch count and the bullpen — including reverted-to-longman-work Kyle Kendrick — got shellacked. Again. Ike Davis drove in three.  The Mets so thoroughly own Citizens Bank Park this year that the Phillies are gonna have to launch some awkward take-back-the-park initiative pretty soon. Philly-a-tude! Phillies-o-rama! Phillandia!

Rays 4, Yankees 1: Welcome to what everyone else has had to deal with forever, Yankees fans: shaky bullpen work.  Granted a 1-0 lead isn’t the easiest thing to protect, but David Robertson left little doubt about whether this one was going to be blown, giving up four runs.

Rockies 6, Padres 2: Left-hander Christian Friedrich pitched six solid innings and …. wait.  Sorry, I can’t continue this one. I need to clear something up. [dials the Rockies clubhouse]

Me: Mr Freed-rich …
Christian Friedrich: “Fredrick”
Me: You’re putting me on.
Christian Friedrich: No, it’s pronounced “Fredrick”
Me: Do you also say “Christ-Ean”?
Christian Friedrich: No… “Christian.”
Me: Well, why isn’t it “Christ-Ean Frederick?”?
Christian Friedrich: It isn’t; it’s “Christian Frederick.”
Me: I see.
Christian Friedrich: You must be Craig.
Me: No, it’s pronounced “Cray-ag.”
Christian Friedrich: But they told me it was “Craig.”
Me: Well, they were wrong then, weren’t they?

Pirates 4, Nationals 2: Erik Bedard left with an injury after one inning but the Pirates didn’t miss a beat: five guys combined to pitch eight innings of two-run ball and Andrew McCutchen went 4 for 4.  Bryce Harper went 0 for 4, but he did catch a Pedro Alvarez fly near the wall and then turned around with the ball in his glove and taunted Pirates fans with it, and that’s pretty effin’ solid.  As a tremendous fan of Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have a heel in Major League Baseball right now.

Reds 2, Brewers 1: Hit this one up yesterday. Zack Greinke’s bad luck and lack of support has to remind him of his days back in Kansas City.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 2: Adam Lind was moved down to eighth in the order. Must not have liked it because he hit a homer. Brandon Morrow struck out ten.

Cubs 1, Braves 0: A two hour and five minute game on getaway day. I have no idea if this is common for the Cubs, but I am shocked — shocked! — that the Braves went down quietly while a plane waited for them at the airport.

White Sox 8, Indians 1: Jake Peavy (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER) and Adam Dunn (1 for 3, HR, BB, 2RBI) continue to carry this team.

Angels 6, Twins 2: Mike Trout had a couple of doubles and a couple of RBI. Albert Pujols singled in a couple of runs. I’ve been telling people for a while that I’ll feel way better about Pujols being back on track if he starts to simply hit a bit — singles count — as opposed to us watching the home run totals as if they mean everything.

Royals 4, Red Sox 3: Two of the Royals runs were unearned thanks to a Marlon Byrd error. Bruce Chen gave up three runs while pitching into the seventh. Adrian Gonzalez had a bases-clearing double.  The Sox have lost seven of eight. Those games were against Oakland, Baltimore and Kansas City. Which, sure, they’re all playing decent ball, but no, they were not supposed to be abusing the Boston Red Sox.

Marlins 5, Astros 3: I fell asleep before this one ended and I set ATH to post this morning before I woke up. In the meantime, Old Gator supplied a pithy recap that will suit our purposes just fine:

The Feesh took down the Astros 5-3 in extra eenings last night, playing beyond Craig’s bedtime when he wore himself out trying to button the rear hatch on his Pooh pajamas after having already put them on … Josh Johnson peetched seven pretty solid innings, thank Buddha, giving up just two runs and looking, if not like the dominant monster he was early last season, at least a lot less like the batting practice machine he has been in most of his starts. Probably Slobbering Ozzie had noticed something about his motion, and Josh discovered the flaw while he was trying to figure out what Ozzie had said to him in the first place. Omar Infante got Ryan Webb back the two runs he gave away for him the night before with a walkoff seengle in the twelfth.

The Astros have assuredly not been the doormats everyone expected them to be, at least not in the early going, and it’s a shame these hungry kids will have that degenerate, post-classical phenomenon known as designatedhitterball in their futures, this just as they’re getting good at real baseball. Perhaps playing well enough to surprise everyone is their bucket list.

Dodgers 6, Giants 2: Lincecum looked good for three innings and then hit a wall in the fourth, giving up a bases-clearing triple to Tony Gwynn Jr. In other news, I don’t care if he plays 15 years, I will still have trouble getting my mind around the fact that Tony Gwynn’s son is playing major league baseball. I never have this trouble with other kids of major leaguers, but for some reason it just doesn’t match up for me with Gwynn, who no matter his age, shape or infirmity, I am convinced stopped playing baseball only a year or two ago.

Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 2: Arizona is skidding, St. Louis is surging. Close until the ninth when Matt Holliday drove in two with a double and Allen Craig hit a two-run bomb.

Mariners 2, Tigers 1:  John Jaso drove in the go-ahead late after Jason Vargas allowed one run over eight innings. Detroit is a .500 team on May 10th. No one saw that coming.

Rangers vs. Orioles: POSTPONED: Pfft. As if Josh Hamilton isn’t powerful enough to have just stopped the rain with his bat and his determination. Weak sauce, Hamilton.

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.