And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 7, Rays 5: Remember last winter when no one wanted to sign Nelson Cruz because they thought he was damaged goods or that his best years were behind him or that he was a product of the Ballpark at Arlington or something? Nah, me neither. Two homers for Cruz, the second of which came in the 11th inning. He drove in seven. Had a triple too.

Royals 2, Yankees 0: How very disrespectful for the Royals to shut the Yankees out on Derek Jeter Day. Yordano Ventura pitching three-hit ball into the seventh was not at all classy. The Royals did, however, maintain a two-game lead over the Tigers in the Central. The last time they made the playoffs, Derek Jeter was only nine. This was one of five shutouts yesterday.

Marlins 4, Braves 0: Aloha, Mr. Hand: Brad Hand shut out the Braves for six innings. Then, I assume, he had a little feast on our time. The Braves, at this rate, are going to have plenty of their own time in October.

Indians 2, White Sox 0: Carlos Carrasco continues to be ridiculous. Here he was one out shy of a shutout but was lifted when the tying runner came to the plate in the ninth. He probably gets a chance to fight through that if his team has a bigger cushion, but c’est la vie. Since returning to the Indians’ rotation on August 5, he has a 0.70 ERA and 42/4 K/BB ratio over five starts and 38 and two-thirds innings. This from a guy who, a year ago, probably could’ve told you how many white lines there were on I-71 between Cleveland and Columbus.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 2: The Dodgers sweep, and finish their season series against the Dbacks having taken 15 of 19. So much for that rivalry. Adrian Gonzalez had two three-run homers. His six driven in give him an even 100 for the year if you’re into that sort of thing.

Rangers 1, Mariners 0: The only offense of the game was an Adrian Beltre sac fly. The second strong start for Derek Holland since his return, this time with seven shutout inning, no walks and five strikeouts.

Pirates 10, Cubs 4: Four homers for Pirates batters, including one from Gerrit Cole of all people. This sweep, combined with the Brewers’ loss, puts the Pirates in the second wild card position, a half game up on Atlanta and Milwaukee.

Angels 14, Twins 4: The sweep. For both the series and the season against the Twins. And they now sport a seven game lead in the West. Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and C.J. Cron all homered. Kendrick drove in four, with an RBI triple and RBI single accompanying his solo shot.

Cardinals 9, Brewers 1: Adam Wainwright allowed only one run while tossing a complete game, needing exactly 100 pitches to do it. The Cards took three of four and now have a four and a half game lead in the Central.

Nationals 3, Phillies 2: Another guy with two homers, this time Adam LaRoche, to help the Nats avoid the sweep. Both homers tied the game at the time. Drew Storen took over as closer for Rafael Soriano and got the save.

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 1: Jose Bautista’s three-rum homer was all the offense the Jays would get or need. R.A. Dickey baffled Sox hitters, allowing one run on six hits while pitching into the eighth. This loss, combined with the Orioles’ win, officially eliminates the Red Sox. Not that anyone in Boston was holding their breath.

Mets 4, Reds 3: Anthony Recker and Curtis Granderson homered. All four of the Mets’ runs were unearned, however, as the Reds committed two inning or at-bat-continuing errors. There aren’t many teams which have had a more uninspiring second half than Cincinnati.

Rockies 6, Padres 0: Colorado sweeps. Four in a row overall for them. Jackson Williams and Nolan Arenado homered. Williams’ was his first career longball in the majors.

Astros 4, Athletics 3: Oh, Oakland. They had a one-run lead in the ninth and then Ryan Cook came on to close it out. He walked three of the four batters he faced. Fernando Abad came in and allowed a sac fly, then intentionally walked one guy and unintentionally walked another and there went the lead. The Astros’ win ensures that they will not lose 100 games on the year. The Athletics’ loss puts the AL West even more out of reach than it already was and keeps them closer to the second wild card leaders than they really wanna be. The A’s have lost 18 of their last 26 games.

Tigers 6, Giants 1: The Tigers have Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello is putting up a breakout year and they traded for David Price at the break. So of course a dude named Kevin Lobstein is their best pitcher at the moment. Lobstein allowed one run in five and two-thirds innings. He has a 2.11 ERA in three starts since taking over Anibal Sanchez’s rotation spot. The Tigers have won all three of those games.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.