The big series of the weekend kicked off last night in Cincinnati, as the Reds blanked the second-place Pirates by the score of 3-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 40,829 at Great American Ballpark.
Mat Latos was dominant in the victory, allowing just four hits (all singles) over 7 1/3 shutout innings while striking out five and walking three. It turned out that a second inning inside-the-park homer by Chris Heisey was all the offense he needed, but Latos helped his own cause in the bottom of the fifth inning by launching a two-run home run off Wandy Rodriguez. It was the third homer of his career.
The newly-acquired Jonathan Broxton induced a key double play ground ball in the top of the eighth while Aroldis Chapman worked around a hit-by-pitch of NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen in the ninth inning for his 24th save of the season. After the game, Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman stayed true to his word by having his head shaved on the field for charity. Great night all around for Cincy.
With the win, the Reds increased their lead in the National League Central to 4 1/2 games. The Pirates will hope to chip away at that lead tonight when they send the struggling James McDonald to the hill against Mike Leake.
Your Friday box scores:
Mariners 3, Yankees 6
Marlins 4, Nationals 7 (first game of doubleheader)
Marlins 5, Nationals 2 (second game of doubleheader)
Indians 2, Tigers 10
Diamondbacks 4, Phillies 2
Orioles 0, Rays 2
Twins 6, Red Sox 5 (10 innings)
Astros 1, Braves 4
Rangers 5, Royals 3
Brewers 3, Cardinals 9
Angels 6, White Sox 8 (10 innings)
Giants 16, Rockies 4
Blue Jays 4, Athletics 5 (15 innings)
Mets 1, Padres 3
Cubs 1, Dodgers 6
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.