And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 5, Cubs 0: A rejuvenated A.J. Burnett came into a Wrigley Field with the wind blowing in from center against a Cubs team hours off of a significant selloff and tossed a one-hitter. Oh, and Neil Walker drove in all five Pirates runs.

Rays 8, Athletics 0: James Shields pitched a very relieved “oh man I wasn’t traded at the deadline” kind of game (CG SHO, 3 H, 11K).

Phillies 8, Nationals 0: Cliff Lee pitched a very relieved “oh man I wasn’t traded at the deadline” kind of game too (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7K).  I guess you could say the same about Juan Pierre too, who went 3 for 5. Stephen Strasburg was roughed up (4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER).

Angels 6, Rangers 2: Albert Pujols hit two homers and Mike Trout added one of his own. The Rangers are 7-9 since the break and the Angels are in the process of sending them a message.

Braves 7, Marlins 1: Meanwhile, the Braves have won seventh straight, are 13-5 since the break and move to within two and a half of Washington. This despite weird stuff like starting Kris Medlen for the first time in two years and using Jair Jurrjens out of the pen. Brian McCann continues the hot streak he kicked off just before the break.

Royals 8, Indians 3: I had this game on as background noise in the living room and the kids started watching it. When Derek Lowe was pitching, my daughter Mookie said “he looks older than the other players.” I said “Well, he is. He’s 39. In fact, he’s a month and a half older than I am.” She thought about this for a minute and said “wow, then he is really old.” So of course when she said that I hoped Lowe would reach down for a great performance and teach my rude little girl a lesson. Nope. Got shelled. This after I explained to her that the Royals were no good. The lesson she took away was that 39 is old as dust and one becomes feeble against even the most minor challenges at that age. Can’t decide if I’m more mad at my daughter, Lowe or the state of the universe for all of this.

Giants 4, Mets 1: News Flash: Tim Lincecum did not suck for once. One run allowed over seven innings. His last out: striking out David Wright with the bases loaded in the seventh. Tough loss for rookie Matt Harvey who pitched well but was victimized by some bad defense.

Diamondbacks 8, Dodgers 2: Arizona is making noise, beat the Dodgers again, and is turning what looked like a two-team race may become a three-team race in the NL West. Wade Miley was sharp and he was backed by homers from Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero.

Mariners 7, Blue Jays 2: Nobody say anything, but the Mariners have won six in a row. And this is fun:

While Wedge explained his pleasure with Jason Vargas’ strong start, shortstop Brendan Ryan was being doused with ketchup and beer in the shower by his teammates. The team was celebrating Ryan’s three-hit night that pushed his batting average over .200 for the first time since April 21 …

Ketchup?

Cardinals 11, Rockies 6: Matt Holliday drove in four. And continues to be a superstar no one really talks about that much. Just the most ho-hum .320/.404/.543 season I can remember in a while. He’s gonna hit 30 home runs and drive in 110 and most people won’t bat an eye.

Brewers 10, Astros 1: If you’re a Brewers fan, a ten-run explosion is nice. The fact that, after the bullpen came in it didn’t end up 10-8 with runners on the corners with no one out at some point is probably even better.

White Sox 4, Twins 3: Odd to see Francisco Liriano facing the Twins. He didn’t seem to mind, though (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8K).

Reds 7, Padres 6: Homer Bailey blew a 6-0 lead to which he was staked, but the bullpen restored order and Brandon Phillips hit a homer in the seventh to break it.

Red Sox 4, Tigers 1: The Tigers loaded the bases with the go-ahead run at the plate in the sixth inning, but then the rains came and action was never resumed. Mother Nature gets the save. Josh Beckett left early with back spasms and was booed by his home fans, so that was classy.  The Tigers have dropped five of six.

Orioles 11, Yankees 5: New York jumped out to a five-run lead in the first and then watched the Orioles score seven runs in the second and 11 unanswered overall. Chris Davis had the go-ahead grand slam. Ugly night for the Bombers.

Players are waking up and getting ready to fight

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There’s this idea out there that the owners have been eating the players’ lunch at the bargaining table in recent years because the players are, generally, rich and happy and maybe don’t care about a lot of the stuff the previous couple of generations of players did. There is probably some degree of truth to that. The difference between a good deal and a bad deal, in both collective bargaining and on the free agent market, is way less dire now than it used to be and thus the urgency may not have been there over the past several years the way it was in 1981 or 1994.

But it goes too far to say that such a mindset is universal among players. Or that it’s a mindset which, even among those who hold it, will always persist. Players may not have been as vigilant about labor matters over the past several years as they used to be, but they’re not idiots and, at some point, the owners are gonna push ’em too far and they’ll respond.

As we find ourselves in the second straight offseason in which teams simply don’t seem all too keen on signing free agents, it’s starting to happen already.

Earlier this week Dallas Keuchel tweeted out some things critical of the current market and teams’ approach to it (and took another swipe today). This afternoon Giants third baseman Evan Longoria chimed in on Instagram, posting a picture of Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and saying the following:

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

Most of that is common sense, the sort of which we’ve been arguing for around here for some time. Fans should care about good players and winning baseball games, not whether or not their front office can get a great bargain for its own sake. It may be interesting to talk about payroll and salaries and wins/$, but the point of baseball is to win, right? When so many teams seem rather uninterested in that, it’s a problem that all of the interesting analytical insights can’t really make up for.

The second part is worth keeping your eyes on. Maybe players have not been on a war footing the likes of which their predecessors were in the 1970s through the 1990s, but it doesn’t mean they won’t get back there if pushed. As is abundantly clear, the owners are pushing. Salaries are dropping in both an absolute sense and, especially, compared to baseball’s revenues. Players are getting a smaller piece of the pie than they have in a while and ownership seems quite pleased to see that continue.

If players are saying stuff like this publicly, it means that players are talking about it amongst themselves privately. The last two years have likely served as quite a wakeup call for them, and they seem to be waking up. Evan Longoria is. Dallas Keuchel is. So are some others. If current trends continue, more and more will wake up.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires following the 2021 season. What happens over the rest of this offseason and the next two is going to determine the mood of the players. The mood of the players, in turn, is going to dictate the tenor of negotiations. If they were to begin right now, those negotiations would be very, very rocky.