And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 3, Brewers 2: A walkoff single in the 13th for Tony Cruz in the 13th inning gives the Cards two of three in a series the Brewers really needed to sweep in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Between both teams, 12 runs were scored all series long. And, thanks to two extra innings games, that amounted to 36 innings. Milwaukee is now down three and a half for the second wild card which, no, does not look doable with a bit more than a week to play.

Rangers 7, Athletics 2: Just when you think the A’s have hit rock bottom they show you that they still have farther to fall. Oakland was swept by the worst team in baseball and now they find themselves out of the first wild card slot and into the second, only one game ahead of Seattle. Here Sonny Gray was touched for four runs in the first inning and five overall. Not that it matters. If and when this collapse is complete, most A’s fans will think of it as one giant blur of a collapse, unable to truly pin it on any one guy. Believe me, I know from experience.

Mariners 3, Angels 1: The A’s loss is Seattle’s gain, as they beat what was pretty much a Salt Lake City lineup the day after the Angels clinched. Not that they had an easy time of it. They were shut out by Wade LeBlanc and four relievers until the ninth when they got through against Kevin Jespen with a three-run homer from Logan Morrison. Felix Hernandez, meanwhile, was right in his element, getting a no decision after striking out 11 in seven shutout innings. Unlike in years past, however, hardly anyone in Seattle gives a rip about King Felix’s W-L record. They can taste the playoffs, sitting only one game out with a dead team walking in Oakland in front of them.

Pirates 3, Red Sox 2: Fortune smiles on Pittsburgh as Sox baserunner Jemile Weeks, who was on third base, was called out when he was hit by Will Middlebrooks’ infield single to third. That’s an out, of course. The Sox went on to score one more run meaning that if Weeks hadn’t been hit, welp, they probably would’ve tied the game. It’s been that kind of season for the Red Sox.

Nationals 6, Marlins 2: The Nats keep winning, now with the best record in the NL in their sights. Gio Gonzalez allowed two runs in seven innings, Bryce Harper had three hits. They put up five runs in the fourth, all with two outs. That’s the kind of hitting that plays well in October. Just think back to all of those annoying Yankees teams in the late 90s doing that kind of thing just as it looked as if their opponents were out of the inning.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2: Derek Jeter hit a home run. This is not a drill. Please report to your nearest fallout shelter and tune all radios to the emergency band and await further instructions.

Dodgers 8, Cubs 4: A big inning for L.A, plating five in the seventh thanks to RBI doubles from Dee Gordon and Andre Ethier. Crazy stat: this was only the second time this year the Dodgers won a game when trailing after six innings. Second win in in 56 such games. I can’t imagine there are playoff-bound teams with fewer late inning comebacks than that.

Indians 2, Astros 1: A thirteen inning game featuring three total runs between two teams playing out the string that ends on a sac fly. Feel the excitement. OK, Cleveland would tell you that they’re not merely playing out the string. But while five games doesn’t feel like a lot in, say, June, it is damn nigh insurmountable with a week to go and multiple teams in front of you. Why people — mostly reporters who cover these games — don’t make that more clear rather than talk up playoff implications is beyond me, but it happens every year. I’ll say it now: if the Indians make the playoffs I’ll do the HBT Daily video the next day while wearing my daughter’s dance recital costume and an Cleveland Indians cap.

Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 6: Willin Rosario hit a two-out, two-run walkoff homer and had four hits in all to lead the Rockies past the Snakes. Arizona blew a five-run lead overall. If I was a betting man, I’d say we are seeing the final few games of Kirk Gibson’s tenure managing the Diamondbacks,

Padres 7, Phillies 3: This feels like the 10th straight game these two have played. It’s a ten-game series, is it not? Robbie Erlin pitched well — he’s a Padres pitcher, by the way, which you would be forgiven for not knowing — and Alexi Amarista and Will Venable homered.

 

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

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Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.