And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Athletics 3, Mariners 2: Coco Crisp with a leadoff, walkoff homer in the 12th. He did it by doing the one thing they tell you not to do as a hitter:

“I was just going up there to swing as hard as I could. Probably nine times out of 10, I ended up with a strikeout with that approach. Tonight was that one time that it ended up working out. I’m not going to have that as my everyday approach but I’m just grateful that it worked out tonight.”

You know, driving home, he thought “well, maybe I can try that a little bit more and it won’t hurt any. I can keep it under control.” It’s what all hardcore home run junkies say to themselves when they start dancing with Mr. Longball. Let’s just home Crisp has a good support structure to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Red Sox 4, Orioles 3: Boston racked up 14 hits. Xander Bogaerts has reached base in eight of his 12 plate appearance via five hits and three walks. This kid is gonna be amazing and you can all say you saw it when it started. Assuming you were paying attention late last season.

Giants 8, Diamondbacks 5: Five runs in the eighth capped by an Angel Pagan three-run homer. Also: the Diamondbacks, obviously in an effort to delay the inevitable, released the hounds and the bees, and the hounds with bees in their mouths so every time they barked they shot bees at you.

Twins 10, White Sox 9: The Twins trailed 9-8 entering the ninth but came from behind via a Trevor Plouffe RBI single and an Oswaldo Arcia triple. Also: Chris Colabello drove in six. This guy spent forever putting dents in outfield walls in independent ball and then raked like nobody’s business once he finally got to the affiliated minors. Glad to see him getting it done in the majors.

Nationals 8, Mets 2: The sweep. Four hits for Ryan Zimmerman. Three RBI for Adam LaRoche, including one on a bases loaded walk. Also: thats 39 strikeouts for the Mets in three games, by the way. Maybe take a pitch, dudes?

Marlins 8, Rockies 5: That’s three of four for the Marlins from the Rockies. Casey McGeehee played the hero here, driving in three in the seventh and eighth. I think the Marlins are better than they were last year, but let’s be clear about something: they’re playing the Rockies here.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Cubs 3, Pirates 2: Jason Hammell pitched two-hit ball into the seventh. Emilio Bonifacio went 2 for 4 and scored twice. He’s now 11 for 16, but before you get too excited about that, know that he’s done this kind of thing before only to finish seasons with pretty pedestrian numbers.

Cardinals 7, Reds 6:  Three hour, forty-two minute rain delay. Three hour, forty-one minute game. Todd Frazier hit two homers, but that wasn’t enough. In other news, there was some fun fan interaction between Matt Adams and a Reds fan:

Rays 7, Blue Jays 2: Nice night for the Rays’ doorbuster bargains: Chris Archer signed a $25.5 million deal on Wednesday and allowed two runs, four hits, two walks and had seven strikeouts in six innings last night. Evan Longoria is one of baseball’s least expensive superstars and he hit a three-run homer.

Yankees 4, Astros 2: Oh well. There go the Astros’ dreams of a 162-0 season. Yangervis Solarte had three hits and an RBI, which is rather annoying because now we all have to look up Yangervis Solarte to see just who the heck he is. Dexter Fowler had his third straight multi-hit game for the Astros.

Royals vs. Tigers: POSTPONED: April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.

Astros, Red Sox look ahead in wake of sign-stealing scandal

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Players from two teams at the center of baseball’s sign-stealing scandal faced their fans on Saturday for the first time since the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox ousted their managers amid the fallout from the investigation into Houston’s elaborate scheme.

The Astros and Red Sox held their annual fan fests on Saturday, and instead of discussing preparations for the season, players from both teams were left to answer questions about the cheating that resulted in both teams’ managers being fired.

“It’s a tough situation and as a team we have to stay together and go through this as a team like we’ve been doing, always,” Houston star second baseman José Altuve said. “We have to talk about it at spring training and try not to let things in the past distract us for for next year.”

Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs during the Astros’ run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. Team owner Jim Crane then fired both Hinch and Luhnow. Manager Alex Cora left the Red Sox on Tuesday after Manfred’s report identified him as the ringleader of the sign-stealing scheme when he was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017.

Many Red Sox players talked Saturday about how much they liked and valued Cora and hated to see him go.

“I’m heartbroken about it,” Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez said. “I understood his side of it. He definitely didn’t want to be a distraction. He was one of my favorite, if not my favorite, managers I’ve had.”

The Astros were fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s chances of getting a hit.

MLB is also looking into whether Cora installed a similar system in Boston after arriving the following year, when the Red Sox won the World Series. No conclusions have been reached and there is no timetable; the Astros investigation took two months.

Martinez hopes MLB wraps up the investigation into the Red Sox soon so they can put this behind them.

“I’m excited for the investigation to get over with, so they can see there’s nothing going on here,” he said.

While the Astros were meeting with fans in Houston, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk called for MLB take away their World Series championship, now that it’s been proven that they cheated.

“I mean, I would like to see that obviously. I bet the Dodgers would like to see that,” Grichuk said. “I’ve got a few friends on the Dodgers that are very disappointed that possibly two years in a row they lost due to a team going against the rules.”

Many Boston players are trying not to focus on the investigation or what could be coming for the team, but instead simply trying to prepare like it’s any other season.

“MLB’s going to do what they have to do to look into it,” pitcher Nathan Eovaldi said. “I’m just trying to focus on baseball. I feel like it’s going to pass, and everything’s going to be fine.”

While Altuve didn’t have a problem answering numerous questions about the scandal, Houston third baseman Alex Bregman refused repeated attempts by reporters to get him to address what happened and kept repeating variations of the same phrase.

“The commissioner made his report, made his decision and the Astros made their decision and I have no further comment on it,” Bregman said in some variation again and again.

After being pressed on if he plans to discuss the sign-stealing in the future, Bregman finally gave an answer that didn’t seem as rehearsed.

“I think in the 2020 year our actions will speak louder than our words,” he said.

Altuve and Bregman were the only two stars at Saturday’s fan fest in Houston who were part of the 2017 championship team. Many of the other big names who helped the Astros win their first title, including World Series MVP George Springer, ace Justin Verlander and shortstop Carlos Correa, did not attend the daylong event where fans can interact with players.

Altuve was the AL MVP in 2017, and since the sign-stealing scandal broke, some have questioned whether he deserved the award. In recent days he’s also been accused of wearing an electronic device under his jersey to tip pitches, which he vehemently denies. He was asked how it feels for people to call him a cheater.

“You don’t want anybody to call you that,” he said. “But … I have two options. One is cry and one is go down and play the game and (perform) and help my team. And you know what one I am going to do.”

MLB’s investigation of Houston began after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who played for Oakland last season, told The Athletic about the team’s scheme to steal signs. Martinez said he has spoken to Fiers and gets why he came forward.

“I understand his side of it, being in that division, going against those guys. It’s an uncomfortable position for him, but I understand why he did what he did,” Martinez told reporters in Springfield, Massachusetts. “He obviously felt like he needed to and I understand it.”

In Houston, as the Astros try to put the scandal behind them and focus on the future, Altuve, who has often been described as the heart and soul of the team, is confident it won’t derail the Astros from another successful season.

“Everything will be fine,” he said. “We’re going to be in the World Series again. People don’t believe it. But we will.”