A-Rod’s lawyer was totally owned on the “Today Show” this morning.

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A-Rod’s combative new lawyer, Joe Tacopina, was on the “Today Show” this morning. He repeated some of his recent talking points about how he and A-Rod would love to talk about all of the stuff that has gone into the Biogenesis case and his defense but that he is prohibited from doing so by the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement. Then Matt Lauer said this about a letter he just received from MLB:

“They sent us a letter saying that if you’re willing to sign this letter, that they are willing to waive the confidentiality clause in the Joint Drug and Prevention Program, that they’ll be allowed to talk about everything and you’ll be allowed to talk about everything.  They said that would include all prior violations of the program committed by Rodriguez, all documents, records, communications, text messages and instant messages related to Rodriguez’s treatment by Anthony Bosch.”

Tacopina offered to read the letter. Then stumbled this out:

“Listen. We would love nothing more than to be able to discuss the testing history, the scientific evidence and the tests of Alex Rodriguez under this JDA drug program, nothing more.”

That, my friend, is a pretty good ambush.

Of course, one has to ask whether anyone really needed to add ambush tactics into what has been going on here.  It’s already a giant circus thanks to Rodriguez’s attorneys’ tactics and the whole drama with the Yankees about A-Rod’s injuries unfold over the weekend and this kind of thing makes it into even more of one.  Major League Baseball has the upper hand given its suspension of A-Rod, its reportedly strong case against him and public sentiment being overwhelmingly on its side.  Why it feels it should get into the mud with a guy like Tacopina — who lives in the mud 24/7/365 —  is beyond me. I’d take the high road if I was MLB.

Of course I’m not MLB so this sort of thing is as entertaining as all get-out.

Beyond that, Tacopina went on the offensive, saying the Yankees haven’t been truthful about A-Rod’s injuries, both this summer and last fall during the playoffs. He also attacked Anthony Bosch. As I’d say with MLB, I’d ask why Tacopina thinks it’s best to wage his battle in public rather than in private. Winning in the court of public opinion — if this is what he’s trying to do — is pretty meaningless when there is a real court or arbitration that actually matters coming up. But again, we’re dealing with a guy who lives for this stuff for whatever reason.

Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.