And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 2, Brewers 1: Luis Mendoza took a no-hitter into the seventh, but it was still close as prodigal Royal Zack Greinke was pretty sharp too, striking out eight and allowing one run over seven innings. Billy Butler’s RBI single in the eighth was the difference.

White Sox 6, Cardinals 1: Paul Konerko is batting .373. And he’s still, like, 300,000 votes behind Prince Fielder for the All-Star Game. One day he’s gonna be dead and we’re gonna treat him like we treated Whitney Houston and Levon Helm Donna Summer and all of those others who died recently: we’re gonna pretend we always recognized his greatness when, in the moment, most of us truly didn’t.

Yankees 6, Braves 4: If you get up 4-0 on CC Sabathia after seven innings and you have a bullpen like the Braves do, you can normally expect to win the game. But nope, not last night. Jonny Venters has been a weak link this year (he’s got a 7.04 ERA and a .382 opposition average in his last 20 appearances) and gave up a grand slam to Alex Rodriguez, after which Cory Gearrin gave up a two-run job to Nick Swisher. The slam was A-Rod’s 23rd, tying Lou Gehrig’s record. I expect someone today will write a column in a New York tabloid about how A-Rod doesn’t deserve to hold the record or some noise like that.

Reds 7, Indians 1: It’s the BATTLE OF OHIO!  Winner gets to leave, I suppose.  Anyway, Johnny Cueto went the distance, allowing only one run on six hits. Joey Votto’s ridiculously good season continues with a two-run homer.

Cubs 4, Tigers 3: Know what was fun? Before the season how if you suggested that Detroit’s defense was lacking and how, in response, Tigers people on the Internet would get all up in your face about it, saying how that’s all overblown and how easy and lazy a storyline that was to be peddling. Well, sorry, it’s true. Last night the Tigers were undone by defense once again as the Cubs scored the winning run by virtue of not one but two Jhonny Peralta throwing errors in the eighth inning. Some easy, lazy storylines are easy and lazy because they’re true.

Red Sox 2, Marlins 1: A strong outing from Clay Buchholz, who allowed one run in seven innings to help the Sox snap a four-game skid. The Marlins played with the roof open for the second straight night, presumably because they broke a losing streak the other night while doing it. Guess it goes back to closed now.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 1: Colby Lewis went the distance and allowed one run on four hits. He didn’t allow a base runner until the sixth inning.

Twins 11, Phillies 7: Another easy storyline? How the Phillies are playing so bad because of so many injuries. Guess what: the people who aren’t injured sort of suck this year too. Kyle Kendrick was shelled and Joe Savery and B.J. Rosenberg weren’t much help in relief. The Phillies are actually farther out of first place than are the Twins.

Mets 11, Rays 2:  Jordany Valdespin drove in four runs. Ike Davis chipped in three more with a homer. That’s a name we haven’t called around here very often this year. Chris Young is one too. He got his first win in a year.

Nationals 4, Blue Jays 2: Bryce Harper hit a looong homer run. Yawn. I’m far more interested in the one hit by Nats catcher Jhonatan Solano. Because if he can stick in the bigs, he and Jhonny Peralta could form some sort of super hero team of misspelled Johns.

Orioles 8, Pirates 6: Brian Roberts returned to action for the first time in13 months. He led off, went 3 for 4 and hit a sac fly. The 1-4 hitters in the O’s lineup combined to go 11 for 19 while driving in six.

Dodgers 5, Angels 2: The Dodgers had a four-run eighth inning to rally. And you know what was special about that inning?

The entire inning was set up when second-base umpire Joe West called Dee Gordon safe on a two-out stolen base. Television replays appeared to show the throw from catcherHank Conger beat the runner.

Knock me over with a feather.

Padres 5, Mariners 4: Down 5-1 in the ninth, the Mariners rallied, but it fell short. Felix Hernandez looked rusty after going 11 days between starts. He went six innings, allowing nine hits, five runs and three walks.

Athletics 8, Rockies 5: Brandon Moss homered twice. When he was called up the other day I asked whether he was truly an upgrade over Kila Kaʻaihue. Since that callup he isn’t exactly setting the Earth on fire, but he has hit three home runs.

Giants 6, Astros 3: Madison Bumgarner: one-man wrecking crew. He struck out 12 in seven and two-thirds and hit a homer.

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.