And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 8, Nationals 0: Adam Wainwright was outstanding, tossing a two-hitter. What worked for him? Everything, as after the game he said “my sinker was sinking, my four-seamer was four-seaming, my curveball was curving.” He also had two hits to (altogether now) help his own cause. Of course, he could have been merely competent and won this one, as the Nats looked feckless at the plate, were far worse on defense and couldn’t get Cardinals batters out to save their lives.

Phillies 1, Braves 0: I called the 1-0 Braves win on Wednesday night perfect baseball, so I’d be remiss in not saying that this was something close to it too, even if I didn’t care for the ultimate result. A.J. Burnett wasn’t as dominant as Cliff Lee, Alex Wood seemed more mortal than Julio Teheran and there wasn’t that sense that the Braves, unlike the Phillies on Wednesday, were one hit away from tying it, but 1-0 is still pretty bitchin’.

Tigers 7, Indians 5: Ian Kinsler drove in four. So far that trade is looking pretty good for Detroit. Danny Salazar, who looked so dominant at times last year, has a 7.71 ERA in three starts and has given up 19 hits in 14 innings.

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed seven shutout innings. He had some help in the field from Yasiel Puig as well. Well, help of a sort. I mean, it was interesting at least.

Twins 7, Blue Jays 0; Twins 9, Blues Jays 5: Not a great day for the Jays, eh? R.A. Dickey was knocked around in the first game and the Blue Jays bullpen was knocked around in the second. Well, not really knocked around as much as melted down. And I’m not talking a Three Mile Island meltdown. I’m talking Chernobyl. There are a couple of long-time, inner circle Hall of Fame Blue Jays fan commenters at HBT. Please, comment early fellas. I’m worried about you after this one. Let us know you’re still breathing.

Rockies 3, Padres 1: Ian Kennedy had a one-hit shutout through six but then the Rockies clawed back. Franklin Morales got a second chance at starting following some injuries to Colorado pitchers and he made the most of it, allowing one run and four hits in six innings with five strikeouts and a walk.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $60,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $8,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 8, Mariners 6: Homers from Choo and Cano got them off the schneid, but ultimately the game was won thanks to Kevin Kouzmanoff, who I still believe died in an industrial accident in 2011 or something and is actually a zombie. Kevin “Walking Dead” Kouzmanoff hit two doubles and scored twice. He’s hitting .414 since being called up to fill in for Adrian Beltre.

Yankees 10, Rays 2: A triple play and a nice offensive outburst are what people may talk about today, but the most significant thing for the Yankees here was CC Sabathia turning in a strong outing, allowing only one earned run on seven hits in seven innings. With so many injuries to position players and with Tanaka and Pineda looking so strong, an effective Sabathia could be the difference between a pitching-first Yankees team challenging for a playoff spot all a year and them finishing in the middle of the pack.

Pirates 11, Brewers 2: Homers from Andrew McCutchenPedro Alvarez and Josh Harrison put the surprisingly powerful Pirates over. They led the NL in bombs so far this year, which is not something I personally would have bet on.

Red Sox 3, White Sox 1: Jon Lester and Chris Sale each carried no-hitters into the sixth. David Ross had a tiebreaking RBI double in the ninth.

Royals 5, Astros 1: James Shields struck out 12 in eight innings. At one point he struck out seven Astros hitters in a row. Some of them were even major league hitters.

Nick Markakis: ‘I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?’

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Earlier today, the Braves inked veteran outfielder Nick Markakis to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a club option for the 2020 season worth $6 million with a $2 million buyout. Though Markakis is 35 years old, he’s coming off of a terrific season in which he played in all 162 games and hit .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs and 93 RBI in 705 trips to the plate. Markakis had just completed a four-year, $44 million contract, so he took a substantial pay cut.

Per David O’Brien of The Athletic, Markakis asked his kids where they wanted him to play and they said Atlanta. O’Brien also asked Markakis about the pay cut. The outfielder said, “I’m not mad at all. I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?”

This seemingly innocuous comment by Markakis is actually damaging for his peers and for the union. Baseball as a game is indeed a “kids’ game,” but Major League Baseball is a billion-dollar business that has been setting revenue records year over year. The players have seen a smaller and smaller percentage of the money MLB makes since the beginning of the 2000’s. Furthermore, Markakis only gets paid “a lot of money” relative to, say, a first-year teacher or a clerk at a convenience store. Relative to the value of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, and relative to the value of Major League Baseball itself, Markakis’s salary is a drop in the ocean.

That Markakis is happy to take a pay cut is totally fine, but it’s harmful for him to publicly justify that because it creates the expectation that his peers should feel the same way and creates leverage for ownership. His comments mirror those who sympathize first and foremost with billionaire team owners. They are common arguments used to justify paying players less, giving them a smaller and smaller cut of the pie. Because Markakis not only took a pay cut but defended it, front office members of the Braves as well as the 29 other teams can point to him and guilt or shame other players for asking for more money.

“Look at Nick, he’s a team player,” I envision a GM saying to younger Braves player who is seeking a contract extension, or a free agent looking to finally find a home before spring training. “Nick’s stats are as good as yours, so why should you make more money than him?”

Contrast Markakis’s approach with Yasmani Grandal‘s. Grandal reportedly turned down a four-year, $60 million contract offer from the Mets early in the offseason and settled for a one-year, $18.25 million contract with the Brewers. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Grandal said on MLB Network, “I felt like part of my responsibility as a player was to respect the guys that went through this process before I did. Guys like Brian McCann, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina, These are guys who established markets and pay levels for upper-tier catchers like me. I felt like I was doing a disservice if I were to take some of the deals that were being thrown around. I wanted to keep the line moving especially for some of the younger guys that are coming up … to let them know, if you’re worthy, then you should get paid what you’re worth. That’s where I was coming from.”

Grandal’s comments are exactly what a member of a union should be saying, unapologetically. The MLBPA needs to get all of its members on the same page when it comes to discussing contracts or labor situations in general publicly. What Markakis said seems selfless and innocent — and I have no doubt he is being genuine without malice — but it could reduce the bargaining power players have across the table from ownership, which means less money. They are already being bamboozled, at least until the next collective bargaining agreement. They don’t need to be bamboozled any more.