And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 3, Cardinals 0: Alex Cobb tossed seven shutout innings and ten strikeouts. He also drove in a run with his first major league hit — a double. That makes it seven in a row for the Rays who just keep on keeping on. They’re now seven back in the East and four and a half back in the wild card.

Braves 6, Marlins 1: It was 5-0 after two innings and not much was left to be decided. Freddie Freeman hit a three-run homer. This after going an (estimated) 0 for 4,408 against the Marlins this season.

Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 4: The Red Sox went up 3-0 right out of the gate but Jose Bautista and Josh Thole hit RBI doubles in the bottom of the inning to tie it up. Bautista later smacked a leadoff homer in the seventh. R.A. Dickey limited the damage after the first, allowing four runs and nine hits in six.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 1: Pittsburgh batted around in the first inning, plating four against Dan Haren and were never threatened after that as Francisco Lirano posted his best start of the season. The Pirates have won five of six.

Tigers 11, Diamondbacks 5: The Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead, the Diamondbacks made it 7-5 but Detroit pulled away. Austin Jackson hit a three-run double fourth inning and Cabrera hit a three-run homer in the eighth. Alex Avila added three RBI.

Mets 3, Mariners 2: Bartolo Colon had a perfect game going into the seventh and ended up allowing two runs on three hits in seven and a third. Colon is now 13-1 all time in Safeco Field.

Rockies 6, Nationals 4: Colorado snaps a seven game losing streak and the Nats fall back to one game ahead of the Braves. Jorge De La Rosa struck out 11. All of the Rockies — including manager Walt Weiss — decided to wear high socks for this one. Which was clearly the difference-maker.

Royals 2, White Sox 1: Mike Moustakas was dead to rights when he tried to score from second on a single in the ninth inning. Adam Eaton’s throw had him beat. But even though everyone obeyed the home plate collision rules — Moustakas slid and catcher Tyler Flowers attempted to apply a tag — the ball still popped loose to give the Royals what proved to be the winning run.

Brewers 5, Reds 1: Someone throw the Reds a parachute. Mark Reynolds homered twice and Milwaukee handed Cincinnati their sixth straight loss. The Reds were one and a half games behind Milwaukee at the break. Now they’re five and a half back and have scored just 12 runs in those six losses.

Twins 3, Indians 1: Anthony Swarzak and five relief pitchers shut down the Indians. Swarzak is actually a relief pitcher these days too, actually, so let’s call this a bullpen game.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:10pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Padres 8, Cubs 3: Ian Kennedy walked five guys in six innings but got out of jams — the pros call it “making pitches” — and survived for the win. The biggest jam he escaped came in the fifth when the Cubs loaded the bases. Kennedy bore down, however, striking out Anthony Rizzo and getting Starlin Castro to ground out to end the threat.

Athletics 9, Astros 7: Two homers and five RBI for Yoenis Cespedes, but it wasn’t all good news: Cespedes sprained his thumb on an awkward swing in the fifth inning. Also bad: Jim Johnson melted down in the eighth, allowing four runs on four hits without retiring a batter. The A’s would like to deal him. His pitching suggests that he is just happy as can be to stay in Oakland. Or, perhaps, wherever it is he makes his home when he’s not playing.

Angels 3, Orioles 2: Baltimore had a 2-1 lead entering the eighth, but an Erik Aybar double tied it up and a two-out bases-loaded walk to Kole Calhoun put the Angels ahead to stay. One of the runners on base when it happened was put there intentionally, so let’s call it an E-Manager.

Yankees 2, Rangers 1: The Yankees have won five of six. This was a weird one. Shortened due to rain, but more so due to the wet field after the rain delay was over. The reason the field was so wet: the Yankees grounds crew couldn’t get the tarp on the field in a timely fashion when the rain first started, turning the infield into mud. If the Boss Were Still Alive he would have … wait, that gave the Yankees the win, so I guess he would’ve been OK with it.

Giants 3, Phillies 1: It was 0-0 entering the ninth but then Hunter Pence cleared the bases with a double to give the Giants all of their runs. Madison Bumgarner threw eight shutout innings. The Giants have now won six of seven and have a two-game lead on the Dodgers.

 

Astros, Red Sox look ahead in wake of sign-stealing scandal

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Players from two teams at the center of baseball’s sign-stealing scandal faced their fans on Saturday for the first time since the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox ousted their managers amid the fallout from the investigation into Houston’s elaborate scheme.

The Astros and Red Sox held their annual fan fests on Saturday, and instead of discussing preparations for the season, players from both teams were left to answer questions about the cheating that resulted in both teams’ managers being fired.

“It’s a tough situation and as a team we have to stay together and go through this as a team like we’ve been doing, always,” Houston star second baseman José Altuve said. “We have to talk about it at spring training and try not to let things in the past distract us for for next year.”

Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs during the Astros’ run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. Team owner Jim Crane then fired both Hinch and Luhnow. Manager Alex Cora left the Red Sox on Tuesday after Manfred’s report identified him as the ringleader of the sign-stealing scheme when he was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017.

Many Red Sox players talked Saturday about how much they liked and valued Cora and hated to see him go.

“I’m heartbroken about it,” Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez said. “I understood his side of it. He definitely didn’t want to be a distraction. He was one of my favorite, if not my favorite, managers I’ve had.”

The Astros were fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s chances of getting a hit.

MLB is also looking into whether Cora installed a similar system in Boston after arriving the following year, when the Red Sox won the World Series. No conclusions have been reached and there is no timetable; the Astros investigation took two months.

Martinez hopes MLB wraps up the investigation into the Red Sox soon so they can put this behind them.

“I’m excited for the investigation to get over with, so they can see there’s nothing going on here,” he said.

While the Astros were meeting with fans in Houston, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk called for MLB take away their World Series championship, now that it’s been proven that they cheated.

“I mean, I would like to see that obviously. I bet the Dodgers would like to see that,” Grichuk said. “I’ve got a few friends on the Dodgers that are very disappointed that possibly two years in a row they lost due to a team going against the rules.”

Many Boston players are trying not to focus on the investigation or what could be coming for the team, but instead simply trying to prepare like it’s any other season.

“MLB’s going to do what they have to do to look into it,” pitcher Nathan Eovaldi said. “I’m just trying to focus on baseball. I feel like it’s going to pass, and everything’s going to be fine.”

While Altuve didn’t have a problem answering numerous questions about the scandal, Houston third baseman Alex Bregman refused repeated attempts by reporters to get him to address what happened and kept repeating variations of the same phrase.

“The commissioner made his report, made his decision and the Astros made their decision and I have no further comment on it,” Bregman said in some variation again and again.

After being pressed on if he plans to discuss the sign-stealing in the future, Bregman finally gave an answer that didn’t seem as rehearsed.

“I think in the 2020 year our actions will speak louder than our words,” he said.

Altuve and Bregman were the only two stars at Saturday’s fan fest in Houston who were part of the 2017 championship team. Many of the other big names who helped the Astros win their first title, including World Series MVP George Springer, ace Justin Verlander and shortstop Carlos Correa, did not attend the daylong event where fans can interact with players.

Altuve was the AL MVP in 2017, and since the sign-stealing scandal broke, some have questioned whether he deserved the award. In recent days he’s also been accused of wearing an electronic device under his jersey to tip pitches, which he vehemently denies. He was asked how it feels for people to call him a cheater.

“You don’t want anybody to call you that,” he said. “But … I have two options. One is cry and one is go down and play the game and (perform) and help my team. And you know what one I am going to do.”

MLB’s investigation of Houston began after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who played for Oakland last season, told The Athletic about the team’s scheme to steal signs. Martinez said he has spoken to Fiers and gets why he came forward.

“I understand his side of it, being in that division, going against those guys. It’s an uncomfortable position for him, but I understand why he did what he did,” Martinez told reporters in Springfield, Massachusetts. “He obviously felt like he needed to and I understand it.”

In Houston, as the Astros try to put the scandal behind them and focus on the future, Altuve, who has often been described as the heart and soul of the team, is confident it won’t derail the Astros from another successful season.

“Everything will be fine,” he said. “We’re going to be in the World Series again. People don’t believe it. But we will.”