And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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White Sox 5, Athletics 4: This is how a season is woofed away. Not with a bang, but a whimper. The A’s took a 4-3 lead into the ninth, but Eric O’Flaherty gave up a homer to Tyler Flowers which tied the game. Onto extras where, in the twelfth, Jesse Chavez gave up another homer to Flowers. OK, so I guess that was with a bang — two actually — but not from Oakland.

Mariners 4, Astros 1: And I do mean woofed away. As it may potentially be, with the M’s now only a game behind the A’s. Here Brad Miller’s eighth inning triple plated two and then he came in on a subsequent Austin Jackson single. Felix Hernandes tossed six shutout innings but got the no-decision because, well, that’s more in keeping with what has always happened to him as opposed to all the winning he’s done this year.

Blue Jays 8, Cubs 0: Marcus Stroman with The Maddux (i.e. a shuout in under 100 pitches). His took 93 pitches. He allowed three hits and struck out eight against Maddux’s former team.

Tigers 9, Royals 5: A crucial head-to-head series starts with the Tigers on top, pulling to within one game in the Central. A six-run third inning was the difference-maker here. Justin Verlander was OK, allowing four runs in seven innings, but the Tigers will accept OK from him these days. The win was the 9,000th in Tigers franchise history.

Orioles 4, Red Sox 0: The Orioles have a ten-game lead in the East. That’s their largest since they won the pennant in 1979. One guess as to the last time any team had a lead as big in the AL East. Guess all you want, you’ll never get it. The answer: the 1984 Tigers. Which, yes, us old people still remember being in the AL East, but no one else does. [UPDATE: I have no idea whey I said that. It was part of an online conversation that I badly misinterpreted and mangled. Carry on]. Miguel Gonzalez with six and a third shutout innings. Nelson Cruz with a couple of hits.

Dodgers 9, Padres 4: Clayton Kershaw wins his 18th, allowing only one earned run in eight innings and reducing his ERA to a silly 1.67. Carl Crawford hit a three-run homer. But boy, you gotta see those unearned runs.

Mets 3, Rockies 2: Two runs in the ninth as the Mets rally to win it. Curtis Granderson was the engine here, with the RBI triple to plate one of those runs and by coming in to score the second.

Cardinals 5, Reds 0: St. Louis has won their ninth of ten to keep their surge alive. A two-run single for Matt Carpenter broke the scoreless tie in the seventh and a three-run Matt Adams homer broke it wide open in the ninth. Cincinnati’s bullpen has a record of 0-14 since the All-Star break.

Pirates 6, Phillies 4: Jeff Locke allowed one run over seven and struck out nine. Though most of the action took place in the eighth with the Pirates plating four of their six runs and the Phillies three of their four. Starling Marte singled, doubled and homered. Pittsburgh remains in the second wild card slot, a game and a half up on Milwaukee and Atlanta.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,500. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Nationals 2, Braves 1: Doug Fister shut the Braves the heck down for seven innings, allowing only two hits. Atlanta still had a shot against the Nats’ bullpen in the eighth, but strikeouts and a foul out by Justin Upton with men on killed any hope. Braves couldn’t hit their way out of a paper bag. No one in Atlanta seems to care all that much, so I’m struggling to think why I should at this point. Oh, Atlanta. What an uninspiring bunch.

Angels 12, Indians 3: Jered Weaver wins his 16th, which leads the AL. Albert Pujols was 3 for 5 with a homer and three driven in. Kole Calhoun hit a two-run homer and David Freese had a three-run shot of his own in the makeup game.

Marlins 6, Brewers 4: The Brewers continue to skid out of control. A Marlins slugger hit a monster home run. But this time it wasn’t Giancarlo Stanton. Watch Marcell Ozuna go way, way out of here. Off the dang scoreboard:

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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.”