And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 7, Athletics 6: David Ortiz’s home run in the 10th wins it for Boston. More fun than a game-winning homer for Oritz (ho-hum) was the fact that Mike Napoli stole home in the third inning. OK, it was one of those “steal home when the opposition is paying way more attention to the guy at first base” plays, which should probably be scored some variation on a fielder’s choice or something, but still. Oh, and in the fifth, he homered. With that speed-power combination it’s like he’s like Rickey Henderson or something.

Pirates 2, Cubs 1: Brandon Cumpton pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. Probably worth noting that we’ve basically reached Peak Brandon in Major League Baseball these days. I went to Baseball-Reference.com and counted 41 Brandons who have played major league baseball. Twenty-two of them are currently active and another 15 of them have been active no later than 2004.

Reds 4, Blues Jays 3: Johnny Cueto gave up three runs –only one earned — and lowered his NL-leading ERA to 1.86. He gave up seven hits and struck out eight in the process. Also in the process: Brett Lawrie broke his finger while being hit by a pitch and Jose Bautista left with tightness in his leg.

Tigers 10, Indians 4: The Tigers are back in first place after a series sweep in Cleveland. Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three. They were up 10-1 in the ninth before rookie reliever Chad Smith allowed three runs. Even their mop-up bullpen work is shaky.

Mets 11, Marlins 5: Often-times eleven runs on 17 hits is a week’s worth of output for the Mets. With Jon Niese on the mound, no less, who normally gets boned in the run support department. Just to be safe, though, he laid down a suicide squeeze bunt at one point.

Rays 5, Astros 2: The Rays took three of four. But hey, it’s the Astros. The Rays are 8-18 over their past 26 games, but five of those wins have come against Houston in seven of those 26 games.

Nationals 4, Braves 1: The series split is a win for the Nats who (a) stayed in first place; and (b) have had a whale of a time against the Braves over the past year or so. Some actual wisdom from Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, though, who commented on he face that Atlanta won the first two games of the series but dropped the last two:

“You know what, it’s funny, baseball is. If we would’ve lost the first two games and won the last two games you’d be feeling pretty good about yourselves. It didn’t happen that way, it happened the other way, so you’re not feeling real good about yourself.”

Narratives, baby.

Orioles 8, Yankees 0: The Orioles scored three off Masahiro Tanaka and beat him. That’s quite the accomplishment. I half expected to see Tony Burton come out of the dugout wearing his Duke costume from Rocky IV and yell “He’s worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He’s not a machine, he’s a man!” [Craig returns to his computer after refilling his coffee and sees Bill Simmons running away, cackling after typing that last comment].

Cardinals 5, Phillies 3: Carlos Martinez starts have been bullpen games, really, as he’s not fully stretched out. No fear, though, because the bullpen has been pretty darn good finishing his games out. Here Nick Greenwood, Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal combined for four innings of scoreless relief. Mark Ellis drove in two runs, including the go-ahead run with a safety squeeze in the fourth.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Mariners 2, Royals 1: The Royals came home in first place then they went and done got swept. They’ve lost four in a row, actually. Close games, but still. Roenis Elias allowed one run in six and two-thirds. Mike Zunino homered.

Twins 6, White Sox 5: The four-game sweep for the Twins. Phil Hughes has been fantastic lately, though he wasn’t here. The offense picked him up, though, led by Joe Mauer who had two hits and two RBI.

Dodgers 2, Padres 1: The Dodgers are now winners of 10 of 14 after taking two of three games in San Diego. They haven’t lost a series in Petco since 2010. If you believe in crowd support actually helping teams it’s not hard to understand why. I went to a Padres-Dodgers game at Petco last September and the place is basically Dodger Stadium South.

Brewers 6, Rockies 5: Oh dear. Oh my. How — er, just. Oh my:

The guy after Dickerson homered, which — if Dickerson had either not stumbled or simply been at third base, would’ve tied the game. That’s the sixth loss in a row and the second straight series sweep for the Rockies. Who look as if they’re playing little league ball lately.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1: Madison Bumgarner allowed an unearned run and that’s it over eight. Brandon Crawford scored a run and drove on in. The Giants are the epicenter of Peak Brandon, by the way, with Crawford, Belt and Hicks. To bad Brandon Wood was a bust. Maybe he coulda found his way to San Francisco, allowing the Giants to field the first-ever All-Brandon infield.

Angels 5, Rangers 2: Matt Shoemaker won his fifth straight decision and C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun homered in the fourth off Yu Darvish. By the way, we’re also at Peak C.J. these days. Five C.J.s have played major league baseball four of whom are active and two of which play for the Angels.

The Padres owners try to explain why they aren’t spending money

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There was an interesting article in the San Diego Union-Tribune over the weekend about the Padres, their owners and their finances.

The article purports to be a rare look into the finances of a big league club. And yes, the owners opened their books, to a degree, to the writer of the story, talked about the team’s financial position, its debt and its approach to team payroll, past, present and future. The upshot: the team has had lots of debt, has had to do a lot of work to get out of that situation and now, with some restructuring out of the way, the club looks forward to spending more on players. Eventually. Like, maybe in 2020 or 2021.

On the one hand, yes, it’s actually got some good information in there! Some details about team finances you don’t often see. Which is totally cool as far as that goes. The problem is that the article doesn’t go nearly as far as it may seem and, in the end, is just a far more elaborate than usual excuse from a team about its failure to spend money.

The tell here comes from what is not mentioned as opposed to what is. For example, while it talks about how much is being spent on various things — baseball salaries, operating, marketing, etc. — nowhere does it talk about the owners’ own take. Rather, it leaves you with the impression that the owners haven’t seen a dime from the team in the several years that they’ve owned it. Color me extraordinarily skeptical about that. As we’ve seen with other clubs — most notably the Marlins, but most do it — broad categories such as “baseball operations” or “non baseball operations” often include substantial payments to owners in less-than-obvious line items. Payments to LLCs and partnerships for “consulting” or “management fees” or what have you. Do the Padres have similar expenditures? We can’t tell from this article, but it’s telling to me that they have spent about as much on front office/miscellaneous baseball ops stuff as player salaries over the past several years. A lot of that has been at building a strong minor league development system, but I’m guessing not all.

Similarly, there is an awfully large portion of the article aimed at telling the tale of the clubs’ massive debt and its restructuring. Yes, debt service can be a killer for liquidity, but it doesn’t really talk too much about the debt for its own sake. Such as the fact that (a) the current owners knew full-well of the debt they were inheriting from the previous owner, John Moores, when they bought the team; and (b) that by assuming the debt, their purchase price for the team was lowered, as it always will be in transactions that involve a lot of debt-assumption. The current owners have had the team since 2012. I don’t recall them telling the public then that there would be a near decade’s worth of swimming against the current of debt before they started paying for players. That’s never been in the season ticket brochure.

It’s also worth noting that, for as much as the debt restructuring is talked up in the story, it is saving the Padres only $8 million a year. They’ve been at least $60 million below the luxury tax threshold for several years now. It’s more than the club’s debt keeping them from spending money. It’s largely been a choice.

Again, none of which is to say that the article is not interesting in its own right. It certainly is. There is certainly more information here than one typically sees in an article about a team’s finances. But it is just partial information. Moreover, it seems to be aimed at justifying another year or two of non-contention to fans without satisfactorily explaining all of the many years of non-contention which preceded it. The Padres famously went all-in and spent some money on players in 2015. Why did that make sense then if this debt problem has been there all along? Why did they give Eric Hosmer over $100 million last year? The article wants to portray ownership as sober and responsible and prudent and use that to explain why the Padres have stunk on ice for a good long time, but it is not very convincing in communicating some consistent, rational thread from ownership.

That all of this comes at a time when clubs are being criticized for not spending money is no accident, I suspect. As such, I am choosing to read the piece for some interesting information it conveys while understanding that it has a pretty significant P.R. component to it as well.