And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 3, Braves 0: The Nats clinch their second NL East title in three years and do so in convincing fashion. Tanner Roark tossed seven scoreless innings. Washington got to celebrate on the field and in the visitor’s clubhouse of the team that, theoretically, stood as their biggest challenge this year. It was fun for a bit in the first half, but the  Braves proved to be little if any challenge to the Nationals. Now they set their sights on maintaining the best overall record in the National League and enjoying some home cooking for the playoffs.

Orioles 8, Blue Jays 2: Meanwhile, up the road, the Orioles were clinching as well. It was a bit longer of a time coming for Baltimore, who nabbed their first AL East crown since 1997. As for the game: it was their ninth win in their last 10. Steve Pearce set the tone with a three-run homer in the first. Alejandro De Aza hit a three-run triple. If you live out west or never watch a team other than your team, and if your idea of the Orioles is based on what you read about them in the season previews last March, well, you have a lot of studying to do before they playoffs start.

White Sox 7, Royals 5Twins 4, Tigers 3: Nothing is changed in the Central as both contenders lose. For the Royals, it was an uncharacteristically awful night for bullpen aces Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, who have been damn nigh unhittable all year but were beat around by the Sox. For the Tigers, it was an all-too-characteristic bad night for Joe Nathan, who allowed two runs to lose a game that the Tigers had come back to lead in the ninth. Starters Ricky Nolasco and Rick Porcello probably went out for a beer afterwards and complained about bullpens until the bartender told them to move it along because they don’t serve their kind. Meaning, of course, Ricks.

Rangers 6, Athletics 3: Oakland couldn’t create any separation between their wild card pursuers, remaining one up on Kansas City and two up on Seattle. Scott Kazmir’s second half swoon continued, allowing six runs — four earned — and not escaping the fifth inning. Bad Oakland D was on display here. This team will probably make it into the playoffs, and if they do they’ll probably be dangerous, but man this has been a long, limping second half.

Mariners 13, Angels 2: Seattle takes advantage, pulling to within one game. The offense woke up with a six-run sixth inning. In the M’s previous eight games they scored 14 runs. Here, 13. It was an instance where Mike Scioscia’s “give Cory Rasmus a couple of innings and then turn it over to a bullpen committee” approach didn’t work. It’s been a good approach and has helped lessen the sting of losing Garret Richards, but doing that enough times will, occasionally, lead to a game like this. Too many moving parts or whatever.

Pirates 4, Red Sox 0: Charlie Morton returned after coming off the disabled list and he pitched well: five scoreless innings with six strikeouts. The Pirates have won 9 of 11 and maintain their one and a half game lead over the Brewers for the second wild card.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 2: Milwaukee stays alive, as Gomez, Hector knocks in Gomez, Carlos with an RBI single in the 12th. The single was preceded by Carlos Gomez stealing both second base and third base off of Yadier Molina following a walk. Actually, Gomez said afterward that he wasn’t running on Molina, he was running on pitcher Kevin Siegrist, as one times everything off the pitcher. Which is a good point. Still: that’s some pretty major base running. The Brewers stay a game and a half behind the Pirates.

Rockies 10, Dodgers 4: The Rockies ended a seven-game losing streak. Corey Dickerson homered, tripled and drove in four runs. The Dodgers got 16 hits but left way, way too many on.

Giants 2, Diamondbacks 1: Peavy and Posey come through again, as they have so many times in the second half. Peavy allowed one run in seven and two-thirds. Posey had two hits, including a fourth inning solo shot. San Francisco pulls to three back of L.A.

Rays 6, Yankees 1: Derek Jeter got gifts. He also got plunked. Joe Girardi got ejected after that and then Yankees pitcher David Phelps was ejected for throwing inside later. Dugouts emptied but no one here had the ill-will nor the motivation to make this into an actual donnybrook. It’s late in a lost season for everyone. Jake Odorizzi allowed one run and five hits over six innings.

Mets 9, Marlins 1: Two homers and six driven in for Wilmer Flores. Bartolo Colon somehow only allowed one run despite giving up 12 hits in seven and two thirds. That stretches the applicability of the word “scattered.” The judges have said they’d allow it, though. But that we shouldn’t push it.

Cubs 7, Reds 0: Jake Arrieta took a no-hitter into the eighth, allowed only the one hit to Brandon Phillips and struck out 13. The Cubs rocked Johnny Cueto.

Indians 4, Astros 2: Corey Kluber allowed more hits, but he struck out 14 in seven innings of work as the Indians stop their losing streak at four. Yan Gomes hit a two-run homer.

Padres 5, Phillies 4: Alexi Amarista had three hits, including a two-run homer. A.J. Burnett suffered his league-leading 17th loss.

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.”