And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Mariners 1: Obviously Ichiro in Yankees clothing is the weirdest thing to hit baseball in some time. Must be how it felt to see Willie Mays wearing a Mets jersey or — and I really don’t think it’s hyperbole to say it — Babe Ruth in a Boston Braves uniform. OK, if that’s too heavy for you, how about Hulk Hogan with the NWO? Anyway: Ichiro singled in his first at bat and stole second base, which is very Ichiro. Then he went hitless the rest of the way which is very recent-vintage Ichiro.  I suppose we’ll get used to this soon.

Phillies 7, Brewers 6: John Axford lost his closing job because he kept giving up big innings in save situations. Then K-Rod comes in tonight and allows four runs in the ninth to blow the easy three-run-lead save. Good for Philly: back to back homers for Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Bad: Roy Halladay gave up six runs on eight hits in six innings.

Nationals 8, Mets 2: Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer to kick off the scoring and then had the go-ahead RBI single in extra innings. But of course the Nats scored five more in tenth inning because the Mets bullpen is the Beatles of allowing multiple runs in extra innings games.

Rangers 9, Red Sox 1: The Rangers have played the Red Sox thrice this season. In those games Texas has outscored Boston 33-7. Just throwing this out there, but the Sox may want to get in on the starting pitching trade action that began yesterday.

Marlins 2, Braves 1: The Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade looked like the beginning of a sell-off for the Marlins. You think that might put Josh Johnson in play. And his six, one-hit shutout innings might be a good thing if you’re gonna market the guy. But then he left early with a finger injury. Doesn’t sound totally serious, but it’s worth watching.

Cubs 2, Pirates 0: Jeff Samardzija  was brilliant, allowing only one hit in eight shutout innings. His performance overshadowed near-equal brilliance from Erik Bedard, who struck out 11 while allowing one run over seven.

White S0x 7, Twins 4: The Chisox break a five game losing streak behind Adam Dunn’s league-leading 29th homer. Francisco Liriano had one of his worst outings of the year. That can’t help the trade value.

Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3: From the things that don’t happen very often department: Luis Cruz hit a three-run homer. Only his second in his career. Chad Billingsley gave up one over six innings.

Indians 3, Orioles 1: Forgot this series was still carrying over into Monday. A shame that this couldn’t have been the ninth sweep of the weekend. Thanks for nothing, Justin Masterson (7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER).

Giants 7, Padres 1: Buster Posey didn’t need much help, as he went 3 for 4 with a homer and four driven in. He got the help, though: Ryan Vogelsong tossed seven one-run innings.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 3: Ian Kennedy took most of the work into his own hands as well, tripling with the bases loaded in the fourth to drive in what proved to be all the runs he’d need. Then he finished the night allowing two over eight innings and striking out seven. Jonathan Sanchez allowed five runs on six hits and four walks in his first start for the Rockies. I’m not sure what else they were expecting.

Reds 8, Astros 3: Everyone’s talking about the Pirates, but the Reds are in first place, have won eight of ten and show no signs of slowing down. This despite no Joey Votto in the lineup. Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier had three hits and two RBIs each in a game that took nearly four hours. Why anyone would want to watch the Astros play for that long is a mystery to me.

Angels 6, Royals 3: Kendrys Morales came in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded in the eighth and stroked a single that cleared the bases. I have not seen the video of it yet, but I’m wondering if this occurred because it really woulda been a double if not for the fact that a guy like Kendrys Morales was running or if, alternatively, the Royals played some Keystone Cops outfield.

 

Astros owner Jim Crane says MLB ‘explicitly exonerated’ him

Jim Crane
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Even during a pandemic, the Astros can’t seem to avoid putting their foot in their mouth. Per The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, Astros owner Jim Crane claimed in a legal filing on Monday that Major League Baseball “explicitly exonerated” him in the club’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal that resulted in a now-tainted championship.

Crane is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former pitcher Mike Bolsinger, whose last appearance in the majors was on August 4, 2017 against the Astros. He faced eight batters, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning. Bolsinger accused the Astros of unfair business practices, negligence, and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations arising out of the sign-stealing scandal. Bolsinger is seeking damages for himself as well as for the Astros to forfeit the nearly $31 million in bonuses earned from winning the championship in 2017, asking for the money to be reallocated to children’s charities and retired players in need of financial assistance.

Commissioner Rob Manfred did not use the word “exonerated” in his report on the league’s investigation into the Astros’ cheating scheme. Manfred did, however, write, “At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested.”

Saying that the league found “no evidence” that Crane was involved and patting Crane on the back for not obstructing the investigation is not the same was “explicitly exonerating” him. The Athletic asked MLB if it agreed with Crane’s characterization of the report. Rather than agreeing with Crane, the league simply said, “All of our comments about the investigation are included in the report.”

This isn’t the first legal filing in which the Astros made a questionable claim. Recently, Astros lawyers claimed the organization expressed “sincere apologies and remorse for the events described in the report by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

In Monday’s filing, Astros lawyers swung at Bolsinger, citing his poor pitching performance overall in 2017. They wrote, “Plaintiff wants to have a California judge and jury literally call ball and strikes, and award him money damages based on rank conjecture about what might have happened to him in Houston on August 4, 2017 due to alleged rules violations he speculates may have occurred that day.”

Astros lawyers also questioned the frequency of the club’s cheating and its impact, writing, “Major League Baseball (‘MLB’) investigated alleged rule violations by the Astros related to sign-stealing, resulting in a January 13, 2020 report in which the Commissioner of Baseball expressly found that ‘it is impossible to determine whether the (Astros’) conduct actually impacted the results on the field. The MLB did not conclude that sign-stealing violations occurred in every game or even most at-bats in the 2017 season.”

Astros fan Tony Adams, who analyzed every home game during the 2017 regular season and posted the results on SignStealingScandal.com, found that there were 54 “bangs” on August 4 when Bolsinger pitched against the Astros. That was the highest total among all Astros home games that season. Bolsinger entered in the middle of the fourth inning, first facing Yuli Gurriel. Adams found three bangs — all on curve balls — in a plate appearance that ended in a walk. Adams found four more bangs — all on breaking balls — in a Brian McCann at-bat later that inning that also ended in a walk. Bolsinger then gave up a single to Tyler White, with trash can banging on a cut fastball and a curve. The next batter, Jake Marisnick, singled as well, hearing bangs on a cutter and a curve. Bolsinger finally got out of the inning when Bregman swung at a first-pitch curve (yes, there was a trash can bang for that) and flied out.

Importantly, Bolsinger’s lawyer notes that Crane’s motion makes MLB eligible for discovery. It is already eligible for discovery in New York federal court where the league is a defendant in a lawsuit brought by daily fantasy sports contestants. Bolsinger’s lawsuit is brought out of California state court. The Astros want Bolsinger’s lawsuit dismissed or at least moved to Texas.

Because the Astros can’t seem to stop making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this whole situation figures to get even more wild as time goes on. Due to discovery, we may end up learning even more about the Astros’ cheating ways than the league may have let on in their report on their investigation.