And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 14, Red Sox 5: It started off with lots of laughs for the Red Sox, but then the Yankees leapt out to a 7-0 lead by the top of the third and never looked back. Yangervis Solarte drove in four, Jacoby Ellsbury three, and Mark Teixeira hit his first homer of the year. More importantly: on the heels of losing Ivan Nova to Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda to a suspension, CC Sabathia put up his second strong start in a row, allowing two runs over six innings with eight strikeouts.

Athletics 10, Astros 1: Just clown shoes from the Astros. Five errors and a nine-run loss is bad as it is, but then tossing on some gratuitous unwritten rule enforcement — from an incident in a totally different game, in a totally different series — is just ridiculous. You know, my original defense of Jed Lowrie bunting with a big lead in that first game was “hey, the A’s should stop trying only when the Astros say they’ve stopped trying.” But really, I don’t think that’s applicable anymore because the Astros are acting like they’re not even playing baseball these days.

Reds 2, Pirates 1: Tony Cingrani allowed one run on six hits in six inning while striking out seven. Cincinnati has won seven of nine and have reached .500 after a slow start.

Indians 5, Royals 1: The Royals make Corey Kluber look like Sandy Koufax (CG 4, H 0 ER, 11K, 0 BB). According to the AP, Kluber is the first Indians pitcher to throw a complete game while recording 11 strikeouts, no walks or earned runs since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981. Kinda cool.

Mets 4, Cardinals 1: Nice outing for Bartolo Colon, who gave up only one run on four hits over seven. And an odd sight:  Daisuke Matsuzaka as a closer. He saved his first game since playing in Japan back in 2000. I don’t know this experiment will work — Dice-K is pretty much the opposite of what you want from a closer — but it’s kinda fun to see. Well, to the extent you can ever describe watching Matsuzaka “fun.”

Tigers 7, White Sox 4: Miguel Cabrera had two hits and drove in three, showing that his bat is waking up after hitting the snooze bar several times since the season began. Wait, are there snooze bars anymore? I’m sorta picturing an analog clock radio here when I suspect all you kids use your iPhones and stuff as an alarm clock. My unfamiliarity with this is not a function of me being old, though. It’s a function of me not sleeping that much.

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 2: Mike Bolsinger snagged his first major league win, allowing one unearned run on four hits in six and two-thirds. He even hit an RBI single to [all together now] help his own cause.

Twins 9, Rays 7: Minnesota takes three of four in St. Pete. Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer, Kurt Suzuki drove in three and Sam Fuld drove in two. 

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.

Padres 4, Nationals 3: A costly win for the Padres as they lost both Chase Headley and Seth Smith to injuries, but a win all the same. Xavier Nady hit an RBI single in the top of the 12th to put the Pads ahead. The Nats blew a ton of opportunities, going 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position and leaving 14 men on base.

Orioles 11, Blue Jays 4: Ten runs Wednesday night, 11 last night. I think it’s safe to say the O’s can hit the ball and/or the Jays staff has issues. Chris Davis drove in three. Nelson Cruz had two hits and drove in two. He’s had RBI in seven straight games. 

Phillies 7, Dodgers 3: Four runs in the ninth for the Phillies to turn a tie game into a laugher. Carlos Ruiz had the big hit, with a tiebreaking two-run double. Brian Wilson gave up all four of those runs on three hits and a walk. His ERA now stands at 15.75.

Players are waking up and getting ready to fight

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There’s this idea out there that the owners have been eating the players’ lunch at the bargaining table in recent years because the players are, generally, rich and happy and maybe don’t care about a lot of the stuff the previous couple of generations of players did. There is probably some degree of truth to that. The difference between a good deal and a bad deal, in both collective bargaining and on the free agent market, is way less dire now than it used to be and thus the urgency may not have been there over the past several years the way it was in 1981 or 1994.

But it goes too far to say that such a mindset is universal among players. Or that it’s a mindset which, even among those who hold it, will always persist. Players may not have been as vigilant about labor matters over the past several years as they used to be, but they’re not idiots and, at some point, the owners are gonna push ’em too far and they’ll respond.

As we find ourselves in the second straight offseason in which teams simply don’t seem all too keen on signing free agents, it’s starting to happen already.

Earlier this week Dallas Keuchel tweeted out some things critical of the current market and teams’ approach to it (and took another swipe today). This afternoon Giants third baseman Evan Longoria chimed in on Instagram, posting a picture of Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and saying the following:

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

Most of that is common sense, the sort of which we’ve been arguing for around here for some time. Fans should care about good players and winning baseball games, not whether or not their front office can get a great bargain for its own sake. It may be interesting to talk about payroll and salaries and wins/$, but the point of baseball is to win, right? When so many teams seem rather uninterested in that, it’s a problem that all of the interesting analytical insights can’t really make up for.

The second part is worth keeping your eyes on. Maybe players have not been on a war footing the likes of which their predecessors were in the 1970s through the 1990s, but it doesn’t mean they won’t get back there if pushed. As is abundantly clear, the owners are pushing. Salaries are dropping in both an absolute sense and, especially, compared to baseball’s revenues. Players are getting a smaller piece of the pie than they have in a while and ownership seems quite pleased to see that continue.

If players are saying stuff like this publicly, it means that players are talking about it amongst themselves privately. The last two years have likely served as quite a wakeup call for them, and they seem to be waking up. Evan Longoria is. Dallas Keuchel is. So are some others. If current trends continue, more and more will wake up.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires following the 2021 season. What happens over the rest of this offseason and the next two is going to determine the mood of the players. The mood of the players, in turn, is going to dictate the tenor of negotiations. If they were to begin right now, those negotiations would be very, very rocky.