And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

85 Comments

Tigers 7, Dodgers 6: I went to see Captain America last night, got home and turned this one thinking that a Marvel movie-Vin Scull-called game would be an awesome double feature. At least the first half was good. What I was able to see of the second half involved Josh Beckett pitching as slowly and annoyingly as usual and Anibal Sanchez apparently thinking that emulating Beckett was somehow a good idea. Oh, and a rare Victor Martinez start behind the plate which reminded us why Victor Martinez doesn’t start much anymore. Since it was a late start I couldn’t stay up for much of it but what I saw was ugly. What came after I went to bed saved Martinez’s night, of course: he hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th. But the fact that it was necessitated by Joe Nathan blowing a three-run lead in the ninth probably means that Brad Ausmus is still lying awake in his hotel room, staring at the ceiling. Hail, Hyrdra.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 3: Paul Goldschmidt so thoroughly owns Tim Lincecum that he is strongly considering an offer to put out a series of instructional videos with Cesar Millan called “The Freak Whisperer.” Goldschmidt hit a three-run homer off Lincecum here and is now hitting .542 (13-for-24) with seven homers and 17 RBIs all-time against him.

Angels 2, Mariners 0: Garrett Richards was fantastic, tossing seven one-hit innings. Albert Pujols had his back with a two-run homer in the third. That was basically it.

Orioles 5, Yankees 4: The absence of David Robertson means Shawn Kelley was the closer which led to him giving up two runs on four hits in the ninth. I expect New York columnists to respond to this with a calm and sober realization that, hey, sometimes things don’t work out well when you’re trying to account for injuries to key players and th— hahaha. Just kidding. I expect “BRING BACK MARIANO!!!” headlines in a 72pt font.

Cubs 7, Pirates 5: Four hits for Anthony Rizzo and seven strong innings for Jason Hammel. He’s got two wins in two starts, both against Pittsburgh.

Blue Jays 7, Astros 3: Brandon Morrow won for the first time since May of last year, pitching six workmanlike innings. Seriously: he had on a Carhart jacket and ate a box lunch after the third. Playing against Houston makes guys do weird things.

Braves 4, Mets 3: Ervin Santana allowed only three hits over eight scoreless innings. His first 20 pitches were strikes. he threw one ball in the first three innings. That, my friends, is command. After the game he said it was better than the no-hitter he tossed in 2011. It wouldn’t have been, I suppose, if Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel had succeeded in what they seemed hellbent on doing in the ninth, and coughing the game away, but they fell just short of their goal in that regard. Jason Heyward homered and drove in a run with an RBI. B.J. Upton rode the pine and Andrelton Simmons had two hits taking his place batting second. Amazing what happens when you don’t punt the two-slot in the lineup.

Red Sox 4, Rangers 2: David Ortiz had a three-run homer in the eighth to bring the Sox back from behind. The homer, which went over the Pesky Pole, was reviewed on replay. I figure a lot of Pesky Pole homers will be reviewed this year. You can never really see those well given the angle and given that it being so close in means a lot of balls go over it rather than past it.

Brewers 9, Phillies 4: Everyone who had the Brewers starting out with a 6-2 record, please raise your hand. Yeah, if your hand is up you’re lying. Carlos Gomez and Mark Reynolds homered and Ryan Braun hit a two-run triple. The Phillies, who were put through a lot of extra infield practice by manager Ryne Sandberg this spring, have nine errors in eight games this year.

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

Indians 2, Padres 0; Padres 2, Indians 1: Zach McAllister shut out the Padres on two hits over nearly eight innings in game one and was backed by a Jason Kipnis two-run homer. Trevor Bauer looked good striking out eight in the second game of the doubleheader, but the Padres’ Robbie Erlin was better, allowing one run over six. The total game time for the doubleheader was five hours and 21 minutes. The one Tigers-Dodgers game was four hours sixteen minutes.

Nationals 10, Marlins 7: Jayson Werth hit a grand slam with the Nats down by one in the eighth inning to win this one. It was his first homer and his second through fifth RBI of the season. Bryce Harper also hit his first homer — a three-run job — and in doing so collected his first three RBI of the year.

Royals 7, Rays 3: Speaking of first homers, Alex Gordon hit his first — and the entire Kansas City Royals team’s first — homer of the year, driving in four overall. The five-run fifth inning and seven overall was Kansas City’s first real offensive breakout all year.

Rockies 10, White Sox 4: Fourteen runs scored, none with a home run. I fully thus fully expect Frank Thomas to get on Twitter this morning to talk about how something is fishy with the baseball and that the league has somehow deadened it. Bonus points for a “Wake up, Sheeple!” in the tweet.

Athletics 7, Twins 4: A wacky ninth inning — which I’m sure Jim Johnson didn’t really feel was wacky given that he gave up two runs and walked two — led to extras. Derrick Norris’ three-run homer in the 11th won it for Oakland. And here’s the beauty of the save/blown save rules: Johnson came in with a two-run lead, loaded the bases with a single and a couple of walks, then allowed the Twins to single in a run, leaving the bases loaded. Dan Otero comes in and allows a sac fly and retires the rest of the guys he faces, and HE gets the blown save.

Reds 4, Cardinals 0: The Billy Hamilton show: two steals, three hits and that crazy play where he scored on a shallow fly ball behind second base to score. If he keeps that kind of stuff up, the Reds can turn things around.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

Getty Images
15 Comments

The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.