And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Rockies 4, Marlins 3: The Rockies won this game but the Marlins took the 1993 Expansion Cup for this season, closing out the year with a 4-3 record against Colorado. What — you don’t keep track of the 1993 Expansion Cup? There’s a great ceremony at the end of the series each year in which either David Neid or Nigel Wilson hand the other a teal-and-purple loving cup while “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect in plays over the loudspeaker. It’s one of the most majestic events in sports each year. And you weren’t aware of it? For shame.

Giants 4, Pirates 0: What this season could have been if Ryan Vogelsong had pitched like he did last year. Of course last year was kind of a shocker, so I guess it was too much to ask. He was oh so good yesterday afternoon, however, throwing eight innings of shutout ball against the Pirates to earn the series split.

Blue Jays 2, Astros 1: Shut out for eight innings, the Jays rallied for both of their two runs in the ninth. That spoiled a nice day for Dallas Keuchel, who tossed seven shutout innings. It was a nice pick-me-up for Mark Buehrle, however, who allowed one run over eight and otherwise would have had a pretty damn tough luck loss.

Braves 5, Cardinals 2: The Bravos salvage one against the Cardinals, avoiding a four-game sweep behind a nice outing from Mike Minor. Finally a decent game for Jordan Schafer, who hit a double, a triple and drove in a run. In the three previous games filling in the leadoff spot for Jason Heyward Schafer had gone 0 for 12 with five strikeouts.

Royals 6, Nationals 4: The Royals finally pull out of the seven-game losing skid that basically cost them any hope at the playoffs. A key play in this game: Billy Butler chugging down the line to first base while Adam LaRoche chased a ball he had knocked down but which had eluded him. I reckon we haven’t seen two slower guys in a race on the same play since the 1950s.

Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 5: Not a bad day for Roy Halladay considering he has only had a couple of minor league rehab starts — neither of which were spectacular — and given that he was basically rushed into service after Ryne Sandberg had to empty his bullpen and then some during Saturday night’s marathon game. Halladay threw six innings of two-run ball. He struck only two and his fastball is a shadow of its former self. But as we said back in the spring: the rest of Halladay’s career appears to be contingent upon him learning to be a crafty, old, occasionally junkballing vet. If he can do that, we may have several years left of him. If not, we’re nearing the end.

White Sox 5, Rangers 2: Sox’ bench coach Mark Parent was ejected from the games while exchanging lineup cards which, OK, that had to be some conversation. I’m going to pretend he did it to rally the Pale Hose. If so, it worked,with  John Danks tossing six solid innings and the bats tuning up Matt Garza for five runs over seven.

Yankees 3, Rays 2: The Yankees always seem to have trouble down in St. Pete and this series was no exception. They salvaged one here, however, thanks to Curtis Granderson driving in Alfonso Soriano with a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning

Tigers 11, Mets 3: The sweep. Miguel Cabrera went 3 for 4 with a homer and a walk and finished the series 7 for 13 with two homers and five RBIs. He’s hitting .360 now and he’s not even remotely healthy. Just amazing.

Orioles 10, Athletics 3: A good weekend for Baltimore.  J.J. HardyNick Markakis and Nate McLouth homered and the O’s took two of three from Oakland. That moves them to within two games of the Athletics for the second wild card.

Brewers 3, Reds 1: Marco Estrada had his changeup working and he allowed one hit and no runs over seven innings. Caleb Gindl with a two-run homer for the winning margin.

Indians 3, Twins 1: Four errors for the Tribe and a load of base running mistakes but the Twins couldn’t really capitalize. Then Drew Stubbs hit a tiebreaking, two-out homer in the eighth.

Angels 7, Mariners 1: The M’s scored two runs in the entire three-game series. Not too damn inspiring for the folks in Seattle. Jered Weaver stymied them here yesterday, allowing one run on three hits in eight innings while striking out eight.

Padres 3, Cubs 2 : It was 0-0 until the 13th when both teams scored two and then the Pads finally won it on with an RBI single in the 15th. Those two runs a piece in the 13th were the product of some odd plays — wild pitches and baserunners being plunked on the head with thrown balls — all of which added up to five hours and thirteen minutes of weird baseball.

Red Sox 8, Dodgers 1: Jake Peavy was fantastic, tossing a complete game on three hits. Mike Napoli drove in three. The Dodgers dropped their first series since mid-June.

Scott Boras: Astros players don’t need to apologize

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Ken Rosenthal spoke to Scott Boras about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Boras’ take: the Astros need not apologize for what they did. They were mere babes in the woods who were ignorant of everything. I wish I was making this up. Scotty Baby:

“I’m doing what my organization is telling me to do,” Boras said on Wednesday, describing the hypothetical mindset of a player. “You installed this. You put this in front of us. Coaches and managers encourage you to use the information. It is not coming from the player individually. It is coming from the team. In my stadium. Installed. With authority.”

The analogy Boras used was the speed limit.

A man driving 55 mph in a 35-mph zone only believes he is speeding if the limit is clearly posted. Likewise, Boras said Astros’ players who committed infractions only should apologize if they were properly informed of their boundaries.

It’s worth noting two things at this juncture: (1) Scott Boras represents José Altuve and Lance McCullers; and (2) He’s 100% full of crap here. Indeed, the contortions Astros players and their surrogates are putting themselves through to avoid accountability is embarrassing.

The players knew what they were doing.  Please do not insult me by saying they didn’t. Boras is doing what he thinks he needs to do to protect his guys. I get it, that’s his job. His client Altuve in particular stepped on it last weekend when he and other Astros players tried to play the “we’re going to overcome this adversity/no one believed in us” card which played terribly, and the super agent is trying to clean up the mess as best he can. Hat tip to him for his hustle, which he has never not shown. Guy’s a pro.

But he can only do so much because this all remains on the Astros’ players. Yes, the formal punishment is on the manager, the general manager and the club, and I agree that it had to be given all of the complications of the situation, but now that that’s over, it’s time for some honest accountability. And we’re getting zero of it.

Which is insane because the players were given immunity. They’re 100% in the clear. That they cheated has angered a lot of people, but it does not make them irredeemable. As I have noted here many times, lots of others did too. But their lack of accountability over the past couple of weeks speaks very, very poorly of them.

“We crossed a line. No question. We’re sorry. We don’t think it caused us to win anything we didn’t earn, but we see how we created that perception ourselves through our own actions. We shouldn’t have done that. Going forward we’re going to be better. Again, we’re sorry.”

That’s about all it’d take and it’d be done. It’d be pretty easy to say, if for no other reason than because that’s probably what’s gone through their minds anyway. They’re not bad people.

But they’re also observers of America in 2020 and, I suspect, everything they’ve seen, consciously or unconsciously, has counseled against them saying those very simple words or something like them.

Everything that’s going on in America right now — politics especially — tells people that the path to success is to cheat, steal and lie in order to benefit themselves and themselves only. It’s also telling them that, if they get caught, they should lie and deny too. It works. The media, for the most part, will not call anyone of status out on a lie, even if the lie is ridiculous. At most it will repeat the denial like a stenographer reading back from a transcript fearing that to do any more would be to — gasp! — reveal an opinion. “Shlabotnik says that he was cloned by Tralfamadorians and it was his clone, not him, who stole the signs.” Heaven forbid someone add the word “falsely” in there. They won’t because if they do they’re going to be accused of being “biased” or “political” or whatever.

If you see that — and we all see it — why wouldn’t you be predisposed to avoid apologizing for anything? Why wouldn’t you try to offer some canned, facially neutral talking points and hope that everyone is satisfied that you’ve spoken? Why wouldn’t you, having done that for a few weeks, begin to believe that, actually, you’re right not do say anything more. And  that, maybe, you were never in the wrong at all? That’s were we are as a country now, that’s for sure. And given that sports reflects society, it should not be at all surprising that that attitude has infected sports as well.

Astros owner Jim Crane tells Rosenthal that there could be an apology in spring training. “Quite frankly, we’ll apologize for what happened, ask forgiveness and move forward,” Crane said.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that when someone says “quite frankly,” what follows is going to be insincere most of the time. Another thing I’ve learned is that, in comments such as Crane’s, the emphasis is strongly on the “move forward” part of things. He wants an apology to put an end to a bad news cycle. When it comes, it will be P.R.-vetted and couched in the most sterile and corporate language imaginable. It will be anything but sincere.

In the meantime, the rest of the Astros don’t seem to want to offer an apology at all. Why should they? What’s making them?