And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 6, Padres 0: Chipper Jones with two mammo yicketties on Chipper Jones bobblehead night. One of his homers was his 2,700th career hit. Say what you want about the guy, but he has always had a flair for the dramatic and has always risen to the occasion. Even kinda lame occasions like bobblehead nights. Oh, and Kris Medlen threw a five hit shutout. Yawn.

Pirates 10, Dodgers 6: Big night for guys named Jones. Garrett hit two homers of his own — both three-run bombs. The bigger fallout of this game, though, is gonna come from umpire Angel Campos’ eject-a-thon. He tossed Matt Kemp while Kemp was in the dugout then tossed Don Mattingly when he came out to argue about the Kemp ejection. Kemp claims he was merely cheering on his teammate. Mattingly was livid after the game and chided Campos for running his star for no reason early in a game between two teams fighting for the playoffs.  Mattingly has a damn good point.

Red Sox 6, Orioles 3: Clay Buchholz won his eleventh, Adrian Gonzalez drove in two and then Bobby Valentine and six players got into a huge fight over gambling losses and the illegal alien smuggling/cockfighting they’re all running out of the clubhouse. Or so my anonymous source tells me.

Rangers 10, Yankees 6: A close one, albeit an ugly one, until the Yankees pen really got going, at which point the Rangers teed off for eight runs between the sixth and ninth innings. The Yankees still won three of four, though.

Mets 8, Reds 4: Matt Harvey had a nice outing (7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 8K) and a two run double to [all together now] help his own cause. Homer Bailey: not so much. Homers for Ike Davis and Jason Bay. And I’m not sure what game Frank Frank was watching.

Athletics 3, Royals 0: Five pitchers combine to shut out Kansas City. Homers from Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes.

Rockies 5, Marlins 3: Down 3-1 in the sixth, the Rockies roared back late. By the way, I like to think of the Marlins and the Rockies eternally in battle over which 1993 expansion team can claim the mantle of superiority. The Marlins obviously have two World Series titles, but the Rockies have won more games and haven’t had as many purely miserable seasons. I picture David Neid and Brett Barberie having a decades-long bet over all of this. I pretend that Joe Girardi — who played for the Rockies and managed the Marlins — holds big secret viewing parties if the Yankees aren’t playing when Miami and Colorado meet up.

Brewers 7, Phillies 4: Holy crappy bullpens, Batman! Cliff Lee wasn’t fantastic — he gave up three homers — but he struck out 12 in seven innings and left the game with a 4-3 lead in the eighth, with two out and a runner on second.  In comes J__ Lindblom. Ryan Braun is intentionally walked, Aramis Ramirez is unintentionally walked and then Corey Hart hit a grand slam. Really, folks: can you think of a matchup of two teams with crappier bullpens this year?

Rays 7, Angels 0: David Price continues his outstanding season. He wins his 16th, tossing his first shutout of the year. Meanwhile, Dan Haren continues to have a profoundly disappointing 2012.

Diamondbacks 2, Cardinals 1: Jason Motte came in to protect a 1-0 lead in the ninth and gave up back-to-back homers — on consecutive pitches no less — to Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young. Fun Young quote:

“Goldie came through huge for us and kind of took the pressure off me,” Young said. “At that point, for me, it was just go out and try to win the ballgame.”

Yeah, that’s all.

White Sox 7, Blue Jays 2Nothing that happened on the field mattered much here.

Whitewash: Rob Manfred says he doesn’t think sign stealing extends beyond the Astros

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Rob Manfred said today that he believes the sign-stealing scandal which has taken over the news in the past week does not extend beyond the Houston Astros. His exact words, via Jeff Passan of ESPN:

“Right now, we are focused on the information that we have with respect to the Astros. I’m not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We’ll deal with that if it happens, but I’m not going to speculate about that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.”

This is simply incredible. As in literally not credible.

It’s not credible because, just last week, in the original story in The Athletic, it was reported that the Astros system was set up by two players, one of whom was “a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources . . . they were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good. They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.”

The very next day Passan reported that Major League Baseball would not limit its focus to the Astros. Rather, the league’s probe was also include members of the 2019 Astros and would extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentioned the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Add into this the Red Sox’ pre-Cora sign-stealing with Apple Watches and widespread, informed speculation on the part of players and people around the game that many teams do this sort of thing, and one can’t reasonably suggest that only the Houston Astros are doing this.

Which, as I noted at the time, made perfect sense. These schemes cannot, logically, operate in isolation because players and coaches change teams constantly. In light of this, players have to know that their sign-stealing would be found out by other teams eventually. They continue to do it, however, because they know other teams do it too. As is the case with pitchers using pine tar or what have you, they don’t rat out the other team so they, themselves, will not be ratted out. It’s a mutually-assured destruction that only exists and only works if, in fact, other teams are also stealing signs.

So why is Major League Baseball content to only hang the Astros here? I can think of two reasons.

One is practical. They had the Astros fall in their lap via former Astro Mike Fiers — obviously not himself concerned with his current team being busted for whatever reason — going on the record with his accusation. That’s not likely to repeat itself across baseball and thus it’d be quite difficult for Major League Baseball to easily conduct a wide investigation. Who is going to talk? How can baseball make them talk? It’d be a pretty big undertaking.

But there’s also the optics. Major League Baseball has had a week to think about the report of the Astros sign-stealing and, I suspect, they’ve realized, like everyone else has realized, that this is a major scandal in the making. Do they really want to spend the entire offseason — and longer, I suspect, if they want a thorough investigation — digging up unflattering news about cheating in the sport? Do they really want to be in the bad news creation business? I doubt they do, so they decided to fence off the Astros, hit them hard with penalties, declare victory and move on.

Which is to say, it’s a whitewash.

It’s something the league has tried to do before. They did it with steroids and it didn’t work particularly well.

In 1998 Mark McGwire, that game’s biggest star at the time, was found to have the PED androstenedione in his locker. It was a big freakin’ deal. Except . . . nothing happened. Major League Baseball planned to “study” the drug but most of the fallout was visited upon the reporter who made it public. It was accompanied by some shameful conduct by both Major League Baseball and the baseball press corps who eagerly went after the messenger rather than cover the story properly.

Four years later Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco went public with their PED use and said drug use was widespread. MLB’s response was slow and, again, sought to isolated the known offenders, singling out Caminiti as a troubled figure — which he was — and Canseco as a kook — which he kind of is — but doing them and the story a disservice all the same.

The league eventually created a rather toothless testing and penalty regime. Congress and outside investigative reporters filled the void created by the league’s inaction, calling hearings and publishing damning stories about how wide PED use was in the game. Eventually Bud Selig commissioned the Mitchell Report. Some ten years after the McGwire incident baseball had at least the beginnings of a sane approach to PEDs and a more effective testing plan, but it was pulled to it kicking and screaming, mostly because doing anything about it was too hard and not very appetizing from a business and P.R. perspective.

And so here we are again. Baseball has a major scandal on its hands. After some initially promising words about how serious it planned to take it, the league seems content to cordon off the known crime scene and refuses to canvass the neighborhood. Sure, if someone gratuitously hands them evidence they’ll look into it, but it sure sounds like Rob Manfred plans to react rather than act here.

That should work. At least until the next time evidence of cheating comes up and they have to start this all over again.