And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 4, Athletics 3: Angel Hernandez said there was not enough evidence with which to overturn the original call of double on Adam Rosales’ would-be game-tying home run.  Of course, the replay clearly shows that it was a home run, with the ball hitting off the railing above the wall.  This is pretty simple: If Hernandez had the same view of the play that the Comcast Bay Area viewers had and still couldn’t reverse the call, he is incompetent. If he did not have that view available to him when reviewing the play, Major League Baseball’s home run review system is incompetent. Which is it?

Mariners 2, Pirates 1: Felix Hernandez was Felix Hernandez. He allowed one run over eight innings before making way for Tom Wilhelmsen. This despite only throwing 97 pitches. Maybe Eric Wedge and Ned Yost studied under the same sensei.

Braves 7, Reds 2: Three Braves homers including two from Dan Uggla. And for reasons that still aren’t clear to me, Dusty Baker had Mike Leake bat for himself with two men on and two men out in a one-run game in the bottom of the seventh. Guess that means Dusty figured Leake was going the distance or something. Nope: he allowed singles to his first two batters in the eighth, was pulled, and the game unravelled for Cincy. He shouldn’t have been at bat and he shouldn’t have been on the mound to begin that rally.

Orioles 5, Royals 3: The O’s are rolling. This one broke open in the fifth when Alcides Escobar tried to get an out at third instead of taking the easy out at first and made a throwing error, hitting the runner and opening up the floodgates. Ned Yost after the game:

“The key to that inning was if Escy just takes the out at first, they only get one run,” Yost said.

Yost was then fined $500 by the league office for calling a guy “Escy.” Yost has been Escobar’s manager for three frickin’ years. If he can be around this guy day-in, day-out for three years and still can’t come up with a better nickname than one of those lame name-shortening ones people use when they can’t remember someone’s full name, he’s simply not a fully-formed and plugged-in human being.

White Sox 6, Mets 3: Alejandro De Aza hit a leadoff homer and finished with three hits. Jake Peavy returned after missing two starts with a bum back and looked just fine. For this White Sox team, six runs is an outburst.

Nationals 3, Tigers 1: Bryce Harper hit his 10th home run and had a sac fly and Jordan Zimmermann allowed one run, breaking his 17-inning scoreless streak — but that’s all he allowed over seven innings as he notched his sixth win.

Giants 4, Phillies 3: Andres Torres with a 10th inning RBI single to help the Giants avoid the sweep. And while Barry Zito didn’t get the win, he pitched excellently. Zito in AT&T Park has become something of a lock for the Giants, who have won his last 11 starts at home.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 4: Jon Jay drove in two and finished the Cards’ road trip 10 for 20 with a homer and eight RBI. I’m gonna assume it was a performance borne of relief due to being able to leave town and thus escape the gangsters he double-crossed and the man whose woman he has swept off her feet as the found themselves thrown together in danger. But now he’s heading back with a new confidence and is ready for the final showdown with bad men and with his own conscience.  [note: I’m currently writing a book blurb for someone and I’m having trouble, so forgive me for trying to work it all out here].

Padres 1, Marlins 0: “In a world … where Jason Marquis can throw eight shutout innings …” I’m not working on movie trailers, but if I did I figure the Marlins season would be some sort of horror movie, so let’s feature it that way.

Astros 3, Angels 1: Bud Norris didn’t have to work too hard to pitch into the ninth inning. He only threw 84 pitches, in fact. Way to make ’em work, Anaheim. This is turning ugly fast for the Angels. They quittin’ in May?

Rays 10, Blues Jays 4: Matt Moore won his sixth straight decision to start the season and the Rays decided to take a new approach and not blow a lead. Evan Longoria drove in three.

Twins 15, Red Sox: 8: A 20-hit outburst for Minnesota, including Pedro Florimon’s homer and two-run double in the big second inning. Not liking that there is now a Pedro Floriman in baseball. That was the name I always used to check in anonymously at hotels.

Rangers 4, Brewers 1: Derek Holland gave up ten hits in seven innings yet only allowed one run. Not walking guys — and watching your opposition make multiple base running mistakes — is pretty cool.

Yankees 3, Rockies 2: Vernon Wells played third base in this game. But sure, the Yankees are better off without A-Rod. He also hit a two-run homer, though, so it’s not like the Yankees would be better off without him. Which is quite a statement.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2: It seems like Paul Goldschmidt does something big every damn day. He homered twice and, for the third straight game, his homer broke a tie. He is absolutely destroying the Dodgers, hitting .458 with four homers and 11 RBIs in six games.

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.