And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 11, Tigers 4: Two games, two Tigers Cy Young Award winners shelled. And with that, the Kansas City Royals are in sole possession of first place in the AL Central. This is the latest they’ve been in first place since that crazy, flukey year they had back in 2003, when they finally fell out of first place in August.

Angels 9, Indians 3: Mike Trout had two homers. He had a three-run homer in the fifth that broke a tie and a leadoff homer in the seventh for extra measure. A few weeks ago people were talking about Trout’s “down year.” Even if it was down, he was still having a great season by most people’s standards. Now, after a Trout is batting .410 over his last 22 games he has raised his average from .264 to .311 and sits at .311/.397/.610, which is a great season even by his own.

Brewers 7, Diamondbacks 5: Jonathan Lucroy hit two homers including a grand slam. Which was set up by a bunch of idiocy on the part of the Dbacks. But hey, at least no one can accuse of Kirk Gibson and his players of not Playing The Game The Right Way. That is, assuming trying to win baseball games isn’t part of Playing The Game The Right Way.

Nationals 6, Astros 5: Washington took a 6-1 lead into the top of the eighth and then weathered a four-run Houston rally to hold on. Anthony Rendon doubled twice and drove in three runs and the Nats broke their four-game losing streak.

Mariners 6, Padres 1: Homers for Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero. Montero also played first base, which is a new thing for him in the bigs. Not a bad couple of first steps back for a dude who got (a) underachieved tremendously; (b) got a drug suspension; and (c) showed up to camp after all of that in bad shape.

Reds 6, Pirates 5: Todd Frazier with a homer in the ninth to break a 5-5 tie. It was his 16th homer of the year and, at the moment anyway, he is the best offensive third baseman in the NL. He and Milwaukee’s Lucroy are the two dudes who, on first-half merit anyway, deserve to start the All-Star Game but aren’t currently leading at their positions. Maybe their big nights last night will goose the voters into giving them more love.

Phillies 5, Braves 2: The Phillies have won six of eight. They got a nice performance from Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Howard homered. Atlanta has lost seven of 11 and 13 of 21 and it’s only by the grace of God and the Nationals’ inconsistency that they aren’t buried right now.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 1: You can’t count on much in this crazy world, but if you can count on anything you can count on Tanaka. The Yankees’ ace wins his 11th game after striking out ten in six innings. The only blemish was a homer to Jose Reyes on the first pitch of the game. After that: the Blue Jays couldn’t do a thing.

Marlins 6, Cubs 5: Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer. In other news, I had completely forgotten that Garrett Jones plays for the Marlins. Because, really, who watches a ton of Marlins games?

Cardinals 5, Mets 2: That’s eight of nine for the Cardinals, as Michael Wacha got some key strikeouts to get out of jams. The Mets have lost 11 of 14.

Red Sox 2, Twins 1: Phil Hughes was impressive, allowing two runs over eight, but Jon Lester allowed only one while pitching into the seventh and got some nice support from his bullpen. Also: some nice defensive support from a corner infielder playing center field.

Orioles 7, Rays 5: Chris Davis hit a grand slam that was originally called a double, but viva replay. Part of Buck Showalter’s rationale for challenging the call — which was a close one and hard for Davis himself to determine if it was gone or not — was that he heard it clang off the foul pole. Which is something that can probably only happen in the mostly empty and echoey Tropicana Field.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 2: Matt Kemp went deep and Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run shot. Ramirez also left the game in the seventh with a bruised ring finger on his right hand. X-Rays were negative. Which is positive.

White Sox 8, Giants 2: My kids wanted to watch baseball last night. By the time they were showered and in their jammies the Braves were losing 4-0 and our secondary viewing habit — the Tigers — were in an even deeper hole. So I turned on this one because my daughter asked me to watch “the best team playing a game right now.” Right after we turned it on Gordon Beckham hit a homer and the Giants started throwing the ball all around the infield. Then Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow started doing Hawk Harrelson impressions on the air which was both funny and painful. The upshot: not a great night for watching games with the kids. Probably should’ve watched the Tanaka game.

Athletics 10, Rangers 6: Derek Norris did a nice Vinnie Johnson impression last night:five RBI coming off the bench. Stephen Vogt went 3 for 3 with two RBI. Yu Darvish has lost eight straight to the A’s.

Astros hitting coach receives 20-game suspension; A’s Laureano six

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Houston Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine Tuesday for his role in a benches-clearing brawl at Oakland, while Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano was given a six-game suspension and a fine.

Cintron’s suspension is the longest for an on-field transgression in 15 years, since Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers received 20 games for his altercation with two cameramen in 2005.

“I accept MLB’s suspension and will learn from this,” Cintron said in a statement. “Although I never referenced Ramon’s mother, my actions were inappropriate. I apologize for my part in Sunday’s unfortunate incident. As coaches, we are held to a higher standard and should be an example to the players. Hopefully, other coaches will learn from my mistake so that this never happens again in the future.”

Laureano appealed, so his discipline didn’t begin Tuesday night in Oakland’s game against the Angels. He was in the lineup batting second and playing center field at Angel Stadium.

Laureano was hit by a pitch from Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 7-2 victory Sunday. He began exchanging words with a gesturing Cintron then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward the 41-year-old Cintron.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder got to the hitting coach. Laureano is a former Astros player and the rival clubs have been the top two in the AL West the past two years. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, another former Houston player, revealed the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in November to The Athletic.

Laureano was hit for the third time in the weekend series swept by Oakland – the fifth time the A’s were hit in all while the Astros didn’t get plunked once – and he pointed at Castellanos.

Players rushed out of both dugouts. Laureano was ejected by plate umpire Ted Barrett, and the umpiring crew could easily be heard yelling at the players to “get back to the dugout!” through a ballpark with no fans.

“I just thought that, whew, boy they threw the book at us big time. But what can you do?” said Astros manager Dusty Baker, who had already been ejected by the time the brawl occurred and didn’t see it on TV. “The ruling is the ruling. I talked to the powers that be in the commissioner’s office this afternoon and we had a good conversation. So … we have to deal with it and hopefully this brings our guys even closer together. He was a big part of our team.”

The A’s lost the AL wild-card game each of the past two seasons after winning 97 games both years to place second in the AL West behind three-time reigning division champion Houston, which won a World Series in 2017 and an AL pennant last season.

Laureano began Tuesday batting .259 with three homers and 10 RBIs as the A’s regular center fielder and No. 2 hitter.

“It’s just something we have to deal with,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the suspension. “I don’t make those decisions, and whatever I think about them doesn’t really matter anyway, so I think the best thing to do is try to get it behind us as quickly as we can.”

Melvin wasn’t sure how he would potentially structure his outfield and lineup without Laureano for several games.

“You can’t replace him,” Melvin said. “You just have to play short.”

The Dodgers and Astros had their own dustup when Los Angeles visited Houston last month. LA lost the ’17 World Series to the Astros when the sign-stealing scam was happening.

In announcing the punishments, MLB said Cintron’s discipline was “for his role in inciting and escalating the conflict between the two clubs.” Given the coronavirus pandemic, baseball has established strict guidelines about avoiding brawls.

“The explanation was that he’s a coach and especially with the COVID situation out here … in essence they’re not going to stand for it,” Baker said. “Basically, somebody had to be the example. Especially in these times that we’re going through.”

A former infielder from Puerto Rico, Cintron played parts of nine major league seasons with Arizona, the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore and Washington. He won’t be eligible to coach again until Sept. 2, when the Astros are scheduled to host Texas.

“Cintron said what he did was wrong, and he apologized for it,” Baker said. “It still doesn’t take the fact away that it happened.”