And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 20, Tigers 4: Well, that was something. Eight homers in all for the Red Sox. Two from David Ortiz, who picked up his 2,000th career hit as well. Injury added to insult: Jose Iglesias left the game with shin splints.

Cardinals 5, Reds 4: A sixteen inning affair in which Matt Adams homered twice in extra innings. Once in the 14th and once in the 16th. The latter, obviously provided the margin of victory. The Cards are two and a half up on Cincinnati for second place. They play their last head-to-head game today. That is, unless you count the wild card game for which they are on a collision course.

Athletics 11, Rangers 4: And the West is tied again. A’s bats knock Yu Darvish around like crazy and Jarrod Parker extends his unbeaten streak to 18 games. He hasn’t lost since May 22. Darvish walked six guys in five innings and change. He’s 1-5 against Oakland.

Indians 6, Orioles 4: With this the Indians move ahead of the Orioles and just behind the Yankees in the wild card race. Watch out for Cleveland. Yes, they have two teams ahead of them in that race now, but they also play 14 of their final 23 against the likes of the White Sox, Twins and Astros.

Nationals 3, Phillies 2: Roy Halladay is a shell of his former self, but he battled hard with the few weapons he has left after starting out the game with multiple walks and all kinds of other trouble. Of course the Phillies’ pen couldn’t hold a lead for him. They’re exactly like their former selves.

Mets 5, Braves 2: Call it a hunch, but I don’t think Kameron Loe is going to be in the Braves playoff rotation. Andrew Brown and Lucas Duda homered off of him and Dillon Gee didn’t give the Braves much of anything to work with.

Astros 6, Twins 5: Trevor Crowe knocked in Jonathan Villar in the ninth with the game-winning single. It was the first time in six tries the Astros beat the Twins.

Cubs 9, Marlins 7: The Cubs avoid getting swept, hitting four homers in the process and posting a four-run seventh inning. The Marlins pen blew 6-3 and 7-4 leads.

Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 3: The Diamondbacks walked off with a Willie Bloomquist single. Then they did what has become their little walkoff celebration: getting muddy. Like, literally adding water to some infield dirt and smearing the guy with mud. This is where the whole “the Diamondbacks are gritty” thing has led. It has also led to them still being 7 games out of a playoff spot, but hey, grit.

Giants 13, Padres 5: Pablo Sandoval has had a nightmare season but he hit three homers here, reminding everyone of his Game 1 performance in last year’s World Series. He only had 10 homers all season coming into this game.

Yankees 6, White Sox 5: CC Sabathia looked OK for a change, allowing three runs in seven and a third. A couple RBI a piece for Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano. The Yanks sweep the mailing-it-in White Sox. The Yankees are 2.5 back of the wild card.

Mariners 6, Royals 4: Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning for the winning margin. The Royals used eight pitchers in nine innings because, I dunno, Ned Yost wanted some screen time.

Brewers 9, Pirates 3: I suppose it would be some story if the Pirates went on a 25-game losing streak to end the season and deprive themselves of a winning record. That’s not gonna happen, but it really would be something.

Rays 3, Angels 1: Two homers for Wil Myers, off Jered Weaver no less. In other news, when I was a kid parents knew how to spell their childrens’ names properly.

Rockies 7, Dodgers 5: Jorge De La Rosa ties for the NL wins lead with 16. Brian Kenny then dropped into the ballpark from his Kill-the-Win-a-Copter wearing a Bane mask, sprayed the crowd with gunfire and told them all that only when De La Rosa leads the league in FIP and WAR do they have his permission to cheer.

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.