And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 7, Marlins 6:  Jordany Valdespin hit a pinch-hit three run homer in the sixth to put the Mets up to stay, breaking their six game losing streak. But Terry Collins is on the hot seatNo he isn’t! Yes he is! She’s my daughter! [slap] My sister! [slap!] My daughter …

Nationals 2, Braves 0: The Nats finally break through against the Braves. Biggest reason: the best kept secret in baseball: Jordan Zimmermann’s awesomeness. Why that’s a secret I don’t know, but ask 100 baseball fans to name the Nats rotation I bet his name is listed after Strasburg and Gonzalez by almost everyone, and I bet some folks even forget it. His numbers may be a tad inflated so far this season because four of his six outings have come against the Marlins-Marlins-Cubs-Mets, but he’s a legit stud. Maybe the most underrated starter in the NL.

Twins 6, Tigers 2: Anibal Sanchez was coming off a 17-strikeout performance against the Braves but here he didn’t really have it. “It” being either his best stuff or an opponent that would swing at it if the pitcher putted it up to home plate. Scott Diamond was sharp. The Twins showed when facing Bruce Rondon that you can throw it 100 miles per hour, but it don’t mean nothin’ if it doesn’t have any movement.

Pirates 6, Brewers 4: Pittsburgh finally takes one at Miller Park. Four runs in the eighth thanks to Starling Marte’s two-run homer and RBI singles from Brandon Inge and Pedro Alvarez. John Axford blew up here, giving the Brewers their first loss this season when leading after seven. Shades of 2012.

Angels 5, Athletics 4: Mark Trumbo has been a bright spot at least. Three homers in three days for the big guy. He also leads the league in mixed metaphors:

“It was probably more of a nail-biter than we would have liked. This team hangs around and they’ll find a way to get back in it if you let them. You just have to keep your foot on the gas pedal and try to pound them into submission before they get their second wind.”

I hate it when people hit me with gas pedals when I’m trying to breathe.

Indians 6, Phillies 0: Ryan Raburn went 4 for 5 and is hitting .364/.407/.655. Because that makes sense. The Indians have won four straight, outscoring their opponents 39-5. The Phillies send Halladay and Lee into a two-game series and get outscored 20-2. That’s something that would have made no sense a year ago at this time. Heck, it still makes little sense.

Cardinals 4, Reds 2: Lance Lynn is 5-0 and has won ten straight decisions. He also got a hit and laid down “a perfect bunt” which he said after the game was what he was most happy about. Pitchers batting is adorable.

Yankees 5, Astros 4: Over at IIATMS, Jason is keeping tabs of how big the Yankees’ disabled list-only payroll is right now. It’s up to $95 million. Yet the Yankees are still winning ballgames. Later this year some manager on the hot seat is gonna start whining about all the injuries he’s had to deal with. He’ll say it’s “not an excuse,” but he really will be offering it as an excuse. When he does, I hope Johnny Sportswriter asks him why his injuries have kept him out of contention while the Yankees are still in the thick of the AL East race.

Cubs 6, Padres 2: Scott Feldman goes the distance, striking out 12 and allowing only two runs. Andrew Cashner — the Cubs first round pick back in 2008 — faces his old coworkers and doesn’t make it into the fifth inning.

Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 1: Clay Buchholz tosses seven shutout innings and improves to 6-0. Two homers for Mike Napoli, one which travelled multiple parsecs.

White Sox 5, Rangers 2: Texas had its chances against Chris Sale in the first couple of innings but didn’t take full advantage of all of their baserunners. Slenderman — which if people aren’t calling Sale that now, they really should be — settled down after that and didn’t allow anything after that. Conor Gillaspie and Alejandro De Axa homered in the seventh.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 6: The comeback kids: the Giants rally against the Arizona bullpen for the third straight game to sweep the Gritties. Brandon Belt had a three-run homer. I haven’t watched many Giants games this year, but it feel like Belt has had a lot of big late hits for a guy whose batting line is rather blah overall.

Rockies 7, Dodgers 3: I suppose it’s possible the Rockies can keep winning despite getting meh performances from their starting pitchers, but I just don’t feel like it’s likely. Juan Nicasio only went four innings, but the bats — and Dexter Fowler’s glove, robbing Adrian Gonzalez of a dinger — picked him up. This game lasted nearly four hours. You won’t be surprised to learn that Josh Beckett was starting for the Dodgers.

Royals 9, Rays 8: The Rays led 6-1 after three and a half, but Kansas City scored one in the fourth, two in the fifth and five in the sixth. After the game, Jeff Francoeur explained why the Royals feel like they can always come back from deficits:

“Our goal is to get the first one or two guys on every inning and then let whatever is going to happen, happen,” Francoeur said. “Tonight, we were able to do that.”

Jeff Francoeur: on base percentage guru.

Mariners 8, Orioles 3: Seattle has taken five of seven. Michael Morse hit his third homer in four games. After the game Eric Wedge provided his bosses with a baseline which can help them better decide if he needs to be fired later:

“I feel like our guys have taken significant steps and what you are seeing now is more the norm in regard to what our guys are capable of.”

Awfully courteous of him.

Agent: Nick Senzel’s reassigment “egregious case of service time manipulation”

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Reds prospect Nick Senzel is ready for the majors. Although he battled injuries, the 23-year-old performed well with Triple-A Louisville last season, batting .310/.378/.509 with 20 extra-base hits, 25 RBI, 23 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 193 plate appearances. Senzel has also performed well this spring, batting .308 across 39 at-bats.

The Reds, however, announced on Friday that Senzel was among a handful of players reassigned to minor league camp. Senzel was drafted as a third baseman, began playing second base last year, and had been playing in center field during spring training. The common thought is that the Reds, who have built a competitive roster, will keep Senzel at Triple-A to begin the season and call him up right after the club secures an extra year of contractual control.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Senzel’s agent Joel Wolfe calls Senzel’s reassignment an “egregious case of service time manipulation.” The full quote:

I don’t believe I’ve ever made public statements on this issue in my career, but I feel compelled to do so in this case where it feels like a simply egregious case of service time manipulation.

We are well aware of the mandate from ownership for the Reds to win this year — and this seems to fly in the face of it. The NL Central was decided by one game last year. Every game matters. This is a shortsighted move that may be frugal now but could cost them dearly later.

Nick Senzel is not a young prospect. He’s a major league-ready impact-type player. He has done everything they’ve asked this spring, including working hard to become a major league center fielder.

Nick takes pride in wearing the Reds uniform. He appreciates how much support he’s received from Reds fans. He’s going to go to Triple-A and prove every day he belongs in MLB.

We have covered the service time manipulation issue pretty extensively here, so Wolfe’s statement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Prior to an injury, the Blue Jays were going to undeservingly stuff Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. — baseball’s No. 1 prospect — at Triple-A for the first two weeks or so of the season. The White Sox were going to do the same with Eloy Jiménez before using their leverage to nudge him into inking an extension. The Braves toyed with Ronald Acuña Jr.’s playing time last year. Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco filed respective grievances against the Cubs and Phillies for service time manipulation several years ago.

Team executives don’t outright admit to gaming a prospect’s service time to gain that extra year of control because that’s how one loses a grievance. They dance around the topic by making a nebulous claim, typically about the player’s defense needing to be worked on at Triple-A. That’s what the Cubs said about Bryant, and it’s what the Jays said about Guerrero. It’s a subjective enough evaluation that it can’t be falsified. It’s why the grievances that have been filed over this have fizzled out and it’s why more and more teams have brazenly joined the service time manipulation bandwagon.

Senzel’s case is, admittedly, a bit more murky. Though he performed well this spring, Scott Schebler has outperformed him, batting .379 with five extra-base hits and 11 walks in roughly 40 trips to the plate. The starting spot in right field is taken by Yasiel Puig and left field is taken by Jesse Winker. Schebler has ostensibly earned the starting job in center. I can’t imagine Wolfe having a compelling case if he were to file a grievance on Senzel’s behalf.

That being said, it is important that agents (and the MLBPA) speak out about this when they can. Senzel’s case may not be open-and-shut, but bringing service time manipulation into the public consciousness will have a lasting impact ahead of the December 2021 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. Holding team executives publicly accountable may make them less willing to manipulate their players’ service time going forward, as it may sour what could otherwise be a terrific relationship between team and player. Service time manipulation is an important piece of the labor puzzle and those on the players’ side have to seize whatever they can to potentially gain leverage. Awareness leads to solidarity.