And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Brewers 10, Phillies 4: Wouldn’t you know it? Ryan Braun picks yesterday to go back on steroids! Or at least that’s what I assume Phillies fans are thinking this morning. Three homers and seven RBI for a guy a lot of people think didn’t know how to play baseball before taking PEDs but, you know, clearly did. In other news, Braun was booed lustily while Marlon Byrd was treated just fine by the hometown crowd. But sure, let’s pretend that people booing Braun is all about morality and not blind team loyalty.

Dodgers 3, Tigers 2: Carl Crawford with the RBI double to win it in the 10th. I think Brad Ausmus is learning that maybe the Joba Chamberlain-Phil Coke bullpen combo is not his best go-to option in extra innings when the game is on the line. Also, a rough game for Torii Hunter. He leaves the game with a knee contusion AND he has Vin Scully talk about his dad being a crack addict during one of his at bats.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: Tim Hudson allowed two earned runs over eight in his Giants home debut and Brandon Belt looked amazingly like Barry Bonds with his first inning homer.

Rangers 10, Red Sox 7: The Sox outhit the Rangers 14-13, but they also grounded into five double plays. Which kind of kills your momentum.

Orioles 14, Yankees 5: Twenty hits, including homers from Delmon Young, Adam Jones and Matt Weiters. The stadium was half empty. Half of the starters were gone towards the end of the game. There’s nothing sadder in Yankee Stadium than apathy.

Nationals 5, Marlins 0: Gio Gonzalez and four relievers toss the shutout. Anthony Rendon had an RBI single and an RBI double.

Blue Jays 5, Astros 2: Melky Cabrera has homered in four straight games. That’s another player that, you know, actually knows how to play baseball despite the “he’s a PED creation” narrative.

Mets 4, Braves 0: The Braves celebrated the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run by getting their butts shut the hell out by Bartolo Colon, Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde. I hope Hank shot some seriously disapproving looks down from his luxury box as the evening wore on. It would have been better had he taken a bat and showed these jackwagons how to hit. In other news, this is my new spirit animal.

Indians 8, Padres 6:  David Murphy hit a three-run homer and had four RBI. When were one of you guys going to tell me David Murphy played for the Indians? Jeez, dudes, I thought we were friends here.

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

White Sox 15, Rockies 3: Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia each hit two homers and the White Sox hit six in all. Nineteen total hits. Just another day in Denver.

Cardinals 7, Reds 5: Lance Lynn spotted the Reds four early runs but the Cards got ’em right back. Matt Holliday hit the go-ahead RBI double. Yadier Molina homered and Peter Bourjos had three hits and an RBI of his own. The Reds are certainly digging quite a hole for themselves early.

Mariners 5, Angels 3: Corey Hart hit two homer in his home debut for the Mariners. With that, every single team has now played a home game. So this is the last of the lining up on the foul lines for introductions until the All-Star Game, I reckon.

Pirates 7, Cubs 6: Quite a lot of two-homer days for players yesterday, with Starlin Castro doing it too. But the Pirates ended up on the winning side of this see-saw battle. They blew leads of of 4-0 and 6-4 before prevailing on a Russell Martin sac fly in the eighth. Which is the equivalent of being the low kid on the see-saw and then getting off to let the other kid slam their butt on the ground.

Rays 1, Royals 0: Chris Archer and Yordano Ventura provided a nice young pitchers duel, shutting out the opposition for seven and six innings, respectively. James Loney’s RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth provided the game’s only score. In other news, someone please tell me how a 1-0 game can go three hours and thirteen minutes.

Astros owner Jim Crane says MLB ‘explicitly exonerated’ him

Jim Crane
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Even during a pandemic, the Astros can’t seem to avoid putting their foot in their mouth. Per The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, Astros owner Jim Crane claimed in a legal filing on Monday that Major League Baseball “explicitly exonerated” him in the club’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal that resulted in a now-tainted championship.

Crane is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former pitcher Mike Bolsinger, whose last appearance in the majors was on August 4, 2017 against the Astros. He faced eight batters, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning. Bolsinger accused the Astros of unfair business practices, negligence, and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations arising out of the sign-stealing scandal. Bolsinger is seeking damages for himself as well as for the Astros to forfeit the nearly $31 million in bonuses earned from winning the championship in 2017, asking for the money to be reallocated to children’s charities and retired players in need of financial assistance.

Commissioner Rob Manfred did not use the word “exonerated” in his report on the league’s investigation into the Astros’ cheating scheme. Manfred did, however, write, “At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested.”

Saying that the league found “no evidence” that Crane was involved and patting Crane on the back for not obstructing the investigation is not the same was “explicitly exonerating” him. The Athletic asked MLB if it agreed with Crane’s characterization of the report. Rather than agreeing with Crane, the league simply said, “All of our comments about the investigation are included in the report.”

This isn’t the first legal filing in which the Astros made a questionable claim. Recently, Astros lawyers claimed the organization expressed “sincere apologies and remorse for the events described in the report by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

In Monday’s filing, Astros lawyers swung at Bolsinger, citing his poor pitching performance overall in 2017. They wrote, “Plaintiff wants to have a California judge and jury literally call ball and strikes, and award him money damages based on rank conjecture about what might have happened to him in Houston on August 4, 2017 due to alleged rules violations he speculates may have occurred that day.”

Astros lawyers also questioned the frequency of the club’s cheating and its impact, writing, “Major League Baseball (‘MLB’) investigated alleged rule violations by the Astros related to sign-stealing, resulting in a January 13, 2020 report in which the Commissioner of Baseball expressly found that ‘it is impossible to determine whether the (Astros’) conduct actually impacted the results on the field. The MLB did not conclude that sign-stealing violations occurred in every game or even most at-bats in the 2017 season.”

Astros fan Tony Adams, who analyzed every home game during the 2017 regular season and posted the results on SignStealingScandal.com, found that there were 54 “bangs” on August 4 when Bolsinger pitched against the Astros. That was the highest total among all Astros home games that season. Bolsinger entered in the middle of the fourth inning, first facing Yuli Gurriel. Adams found three bangs — all on curve balls — in a plate appearance that ended in a walk. Adams found four more bangs — all on breaking balls — in a Brian McCann at-bat later that inning that also ended in a walk. Bolsinger then gave up a single to Tyler White, with trash can banging on a cut fastball and a curve. The next batter, Jake Marisnick, singled as well, hearing bangs on a cutter and a curve. Bolsinger finally got out of the inning when Bregman swung at a first-pitch curve (yes, there was a trash can bang for that) and flied out.

Importantly, Bolsinger’s lawyer notes that Crane’s motion makes MLB eligible for discovery. It is already eligible for discovery in New York federal court where the league is a defendant in a lawsuit brought by daily fantasy sports contestants. Bolsinger’s lawsuit is brought out of California state court. The Astros want Bolsinger’s lawsuit dismissed or at least moved to Texas.

Because the Astros can’t seem to stop making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this whole situation figures to get even more wild as time goes on. Due to discovery, we may end up learning even more about the Astros’ cheating ways than the league may have let on in their report on their investigation.