And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 1, Mets 0: A three-game sweep and an 8-1 homestand for Miami. Three of the Marlins past four games have been walkoff wins, including this one, which was won on a walkoff sac fly. Tom Kohler and Steve Cishek combined for a two-hit shutout.

Indians 4, Twins 3: Mike Aviles with a walkoff single. The Twins carry a eight-man bullpen and Joe Mauer is hurt, but not on the DL. That means they have 11 position players available, which means that shortstop Eduardo Escobar played left field. The Indians’ ninth inning rally kicked off when Escobar got turned around on a fly ball and it ended up landing on the track for a double. Maybe — and this is just a suggestion — teams don’t need eight-man bullpens.

Pirates 4, Giants 3: Pittsburgh takes two of three as Gerrit Cole pitches a nice game. Overall the Pirates have won 4 of 6 following a bad slide before that. Meanwhile, the Giants’ hot run has been cooled off a bit. If this is where their season turns south, let’s all claim it was because of that walkoff reply from Tuesday night. We can call it “The Curse of Technology” or something.

Mariners 6, Athletics 4; Athletics 2, Mariners 0: Felix Hernandez was no great shakes in the opener, but the M’s won. Erasmo Ramirez was pretty good in the nightcap but the M’s lost. Jim Johnson saved that one. While his Tuesday performance was pretty gross — two hits, two walks and four unearned runs — Johnson hasn’t allowed an earned run since April 9.

Nationals 3, Dodgers 2: A shaky first inning for Stephen Strasburg but after that he cruised, pitching into the eighth inning and allowing only those two first inning runs. That’s sort of been his m.o. this year, but that pattern — shaky at first then settling in and going deep into the game — is probably preferable to the old Strasburg who would kick everyone’s butt but be gone by the sixth, either because he was gassed or because everyone was babying him.

Blue Jays 10, Phillies 0: A swell pitchers’ duel until the Jays put up a nine-spot in the seventh. Mark Buehrle cruised, winning his sixth game and setting a pace that had this one over in less than two and a half hours. Cliff Lee summed it up best afterward: “They flat out beat us in every way. Shut us out and scored 10 runs. That’s a pretty good beating right there.” Yup. Jays have won four straight.

Diamondbacks 3, Brewers 2: Signs of life for Arizona, as the Snakes have won five of seven. Bronson Arroyo has turned it around personally too, notching his third straight solid start after a horrific April.

Red Sox 4, Reds 3: The Sox climb back to .500 with a sweep of the Reds. The Reds have lost 11 one-run games this year, which is the sort of thing that has to just gnaw at a team.

Royals 8, Padres 0: James Shields wasn’t terribly sharp, but he did manage seven shutout innings all the same. Eric Hosmer drove in four. Andrew Cashner was beat around. After the game he said “we’re kinda in a team-wide funk.” Which would be cool if he meant, like, a Bootsy Collins funk, but that’s not what he means.

Orioles 4, Rays 3: Two homers for Adam Jones and a two-run homer for Jonathan Schoop to break a 2-2- tie.

Cardinals 7, Braves 1: Adam Wainwright shut ’em down and Mike Minor looked awful yet again. The Braves’ offense looked worse. Of course they’ve had a ton of practice looking terrible. Wainwright had two hits and scored twice too and is hitting .400 on the season.

Tigers 3, Astros 2: Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers continue their hot streaks. Cabrera and Victor Martinez homered and the Tigers won their eighth in a row.

White Sox 8, Cubs 3: Gordon Beckham homered for the second straight game, Jose Abreu had two doubles and Paul Konerko shook off the rust and hit a three-run double. Four wins in a row for the Chisox.

Rockies 9, Rangers 2: Nolan Arenado extends his hitting streak to 27 games, tying the Rockies’ all-time mark. Three straight easy wins for the Rockies over the listless looking Rangers.

Yankees 9, Angels 2: Derek Jeter with his first homer of the year. People have been suggesting that maybe he needs a break or something, but he’s had slow starts like this in the past and came around to be perfectly Jeterian for the rest of the year. While, sure, he’s more likely to break down at 40 than he was at 30, there’s no reason to think he can’t be his old self at the plate for long stretches this season.

Whitewash: Rob Manfred says he doesn’t think sign stealing extends beyond the Astros

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Rob Manfred said today that he believes the sign-stealing scandal which has taken over the news in the past week does not extend beyond the Houston Astros. His exact words, via Jeff Passan of ESPN:

“Right now, we are focused on the information that we have with respect to the Astros. I’m not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We’ll deal with that if it happens, but I’m not going to speculate about that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.”

This is simply incredible. As in literally not credible.

It’s not credible because, just last week, in the original story in The Athletic, it was reported that the Astros system was set up by two players, one of whom was “a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources . . . they were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good. They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.”

The very next day Passan reported that Major League Baseball would not limit its focus to the Astros. Rather, the league’s probe was also include members of the 2019 Astros and would extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentioned the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Add into this the Red Sox’ pre-Cora sign-stealing with Apple Watches and widespread, informed speculation on the part of players and people around the game that many teams do this sort of thing, and one can’t reasonably suggest that only the Houston Astros are doing this.

Which, as I noted at the time, made perfect sense. These schemes cannot, logically, operate in isolation because players and coaches change teams constantly. In light of this, players have to know that their sign-stealing would be found out by other teams eventually. They continue to do it, however, because they know other teams do it too. As is the case with pitchers using pine tar or what have you, they don’t rat out the other team so they, themselves, will not be ratted out. It’s a mutually-assured destruction that only exists and only works if, in fact, other teams are also stealing signs.

So why is Major League Baseball content to only hang the Astros here? I can think of two reasons.

One is practical. They had the Astros fall in their lap via former Astro Mike Fiers — obviously not himself concerned with his current team being busted for whatever reason — going on the record with his accusation. That’s not likely to repeat itself across baseball and thus it’d be quite difficult for Major League Baseball to easily conduct a wide investigation. Who is going to talk? How can baseball make them talk? It’d be a pretty big undertaking.

But there’s also the optics. Major League Baseball has had a week to think about the report of the Astros sign-stealing and, I suspect, they’ve realized, like everyone else has realized, that this is a major scandal in the making. Do they really want to spend the entire offseason — and longer, I suspect, if they want a thorough investigation — digging up unflattering news about cheating in the sport? Do they really want to be in the bad news creation business? I doubt they do, so they decided to fence off the Astros, hit them hard with penalties, declare victory and move on.

Which is to say, it’s a whitewash.

It’s something the league has tried to do before. They did it with steroids and it didn’t work particularly well.

In 1998 Mark McGwire, that game’s biggest star at the time, was found to have the PED androstenedione in his locker. It was a big freakin’ deal. Except . . . nothing happened. Major League Baseball planned to “study” the drug but most of the fallout was visited upon the reporter who made it public. It was accompanied by some shameful conduct by both Major League Baseball and the baseball press corps who eagerly went after the messenger rather than cover the story properly.

Four years later Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco went public with their PED use and said drug use was widespread. MLB’s response was slow and, again, sought to isolated the known offenders, singling out Caminiti as a troubled figure — which he was — and Canseco as a kook — which he kind of is — but doing them and the story a disservice all the same.

The league eventually created a rather toothless testing and penalty regime. Congress and outside investigative reporters filled the void created by the league’s inaction, calling hearings and publishing damning stories about how wide PED use was in the game. Eventually Bud Selig commissioned the Mitchell Report. Some ten years after the McGwire incident baseball had at least the beginnings of a sane approach to PEDs and a more effective testing plan, but it was pulled to it kicking and screaming, mostly because doing anything about it was too hard and not very appetizing from a business and P.R. perspective.

And so here we are again. Baseball has a major scandal on its hands. After some initially promising words about how serious it planned to take it, the league seems content to cordon off the known crime scene and refuses to canvass the neighborhood. Sure, if someone gratuitously hands them evidence they’ll look into it, but it sure sounds like Rob Manfred plans to react rather than act here.

That should work. At least until the next time evidence of cheating comes up and they have to start this all over again.