And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

106 Comments

source: Getty Images

Yankees 7, Mariners 2: Felix Hernandez needed only six pitches to get through the first inning. He needed only nine pitches to get through the second. In the third he set the Yankees down in order once again, again on six pitches. Then this started happening:

That’s why they play the game. Hernandez’s line on the night: four and two-thirds innings pitched, six hits, seven runs, five walks and the loss. Mark Teixeira hit a grand slam off of him. The lessons: (1) watch the whole game; and (2) don’t read what people say on Twitter. Basically, ever. It’s an awful, awful website which will suck your entire life away.

Braves 8, Diamondbacks 1: Speaking of homers coming in bunches, get a load of Freddie Freeman, who has hit three in the past four games. He had three hits in all, as did Andrelton Simmons, who has a ten-game hitting streak. Chip Hale, after the game, explaining his team’s poor performance:

“We played tonight, unfortunately, like a team that played 17 innings yesterday and lost and traveled home, which is my fault, the coaches’ fault. We didn’t have them ready to play. I will take the blame on that. It is embarrassing to me. It is not the way a team that I would ever want to coach would play a game. It’s just sloppy, dead baseball and I apologize for that.”

He then disembowled himself with his family’s sword, handed it to bench coach Glen Sherlock who served as his kaishaku and completed the seppuku. Importantly, he did it all the right way.

Dodgers 11, Rockies 4: L.A. smacked four home runs. One by Howie Kendrick, who drove in four. It actually could’ve been a bigger beating here as the Dodgers had 18 hits and drew five walks. Heck, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times last night and the only time he scored was on his solo homer. Clayton Kershaw even went 3-for-4 with run driven in. The only damage to Kershaw came on a Nolan Arenado two-run homer. He’s homered in three straight.

Angels 7, Rays 3: Both L.A. teams hit four home runs. Unless you’re one of those tiresome folks who insist that the Angels — formerly known as the California and Anaheim Angels and currently residing in Anaheim — aren’t really an L.A. team. But, as current events helpfully remind us, when someone changes their name, they should be accorded the same respect received by anyone who has changed their name. They want to be the Los Angeles Angeles? They’re the Los Angeles Angels. If you insist on calling them what you think their name really is or should be, you’re being a jerk.

Brewers 1, Cardinals 0: Carlos Gonzalez’s first inning RBI was all that happened on the offensive side of the game. Beyond that it may as well have been the high-mound, no-offense 1960s. Well, except for the part where it took eight pitchers to put up all of those goose eggs. I wouldn’t bet my children’s lives on this, but I would bet an awful lot on there never once being a nine inning, rain-free 1-0 game which required eight pitchers to finish between the years of, say, 1900 and 1990.

Astros 5, Orioles 2: Down one heading into the seventh, Houston scored four that frame, getting to a tiring Ubaldo Jimenez and an ineffective Brad Brach. This was the Orioles’ first game outside of the Eastern Time Zone all season which is kind of crazy. Bring back the balanced schedule.

Cubs 5, Marlins 1: Jason Hammel has pitched 67 innings this year. He has 69 strikeouts and only 7 walks. Nice. Here he struck out 11 and allowed only one run in six and two-thirds, walking no one, naturally. He had a little extra mojo here due to not having pitched in eight days, but it’s not like he’s needed it lately.

Mets 7, Padres 0: Jacob deGrom didn’t break a sweat, tossing eight shutout innings while allowing only two hits. The kid may be good. How good?

OK, you can read Twitter sometimes. There is some decent information on there. Andrew Cashner struck out 12, didn’t walk anybody and still didn’t make it through five innings. Which, well, OK! By the way, the Mets are in a virtual tie for first place with the Nats again.

Pirates 4, Giants 3: Neil Walker hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the fifth and Gerrit Cole struck out nine and allowed only two unearned runs. He’s 8-2 with a 1.90 ERA. I know wins are lame, but Cole is on a pace for 25 of them which really doesn’t happen much anymore.

Blue Jays vs. Nationals; Twins vs. Red Sox: POSTPONED: The breaker’s roar

On an unseen shore,
In the teeth of a hurricane,
Oh, we struggle in vain
A hellish night,
A ghostly light,
Appears through the driving rain,
Salvation in a human chain

Whitewash: Rob Manfred says he doesn’t think sign stealing extends beyond the Astros

Getty Images
25 Comments

Rob Manfred said today that he believes the sign-stealing scandal which has taken over the news in the past week does not extend beyond the Houston Astros. His exact words, via Jeff Passan of ESPN:

“Right now, we are focused on the information that we have with respect to the Astros. I’m not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We’ll deal with that if it happens, but I’m not going to speculate about that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.”

This is simply incredible. As in literally not credible.

It’s not credible because, just last week, in the original story in The Athletic, it was reported that the Astros system was set up by two players, one of whom was “a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources . . . they were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good. They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.”

The very next day Passan reported that Major League Baseball would not limit its focus to the Astros. Rather, the league’s probe was also include members of the 2019 Astros and would extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentioned the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Add into this the Red Sox’ pre-Cora sign-stealing with Apple Watches and widespread, informed speculation on the part of players and people around the game that many teams do this sort of thing, and one can’t reasonably suggest that only the Houston Astros are doing this.

Which, as I noted at the time, made perfect sense. These schemes cannot, logically, operate in isolation because players and coaches change teams constantly. In light of this, players have to know that their sign-stealing would be found out by other teams eventually. They continue to do it, however, because they know other teams do it too. As is the case with pitchers using pine tar or what have you, they don’t rat out the other team so they, themselves, will not be ratted out. It’s a mutually-assured destruction that only exists and only works if, in fact, other teams are also stealing signs.

So why is Major League Baseball content to only hang the Astros here? I can think of two reasons.

One is practical. They had the Astros fall in their lap via former Astro Mike Fiers — obviously not himself concerned with his current team being busted for whatever reason — going on the record with his accusation. That’s not likely to repeat itself across baseball and thus it’d be quite difficult for Major League Baseball to easily conduct a wide investigation. Who is going to talk? How can baseball make them talk? It’d be a pretty big undertaking.

But there’s also the optics. Major League Baseball has had a week to think about the report of the Astros sign-stealing and, I suspect, they’ve realized, like everyone else has realized, that this is a major scandal in the making. Do they really want to spend the entire offseason — and longer, I suspect, if they want a thorough investigation — digging up unflattering news about cheating in the sport? Do they really want to be in the bad news creation business? I doubt they do, so they decided to fence off the Astros, hit them hard with penalties, declare victory and move on.

Which is to say, it’s a whitewash.

It’s something the league has tried to do before. They did it with steroids and it didn’t work particularly well.

In 1998 Mark McGwire, that game’s biggest star at the time, was found to have the PED androstenedione in his locker. It was a big freakin’ deal. Except . . . nothing happened. Major League Baseball planned to “study” the drug but most of the fallout was visited upon the reporter who made it public. It was accompanied by some shameful conduct by both Major League Baseball and the baseball press corps who eagerly went after the messenger rather than cover the story properly.

Four years later Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco went public with their PED use and said drug use was widespread. MLB’s response was slow and, again, sought to isolated the known offenders, singling out Caminiti as a troubled figure — which he was — and Canseco as a kook — which he kind of is — but doing them and the story a disservice all the same.

The league eventually created a rather toothless testing and penalty regime. Congress and outside investigative reporters filled the void created by the league’s inaction, calling hearings and publishing damning stories about how wide PED use was in the game. Eventually Bud Selig commissioned the Mitchell Report. Some ten years after the McGwire incident baseball had at least the beginnings of a sane approach to PEDs and a more effective testing plan, but it was pulled to it kicking and screaming, mostly because doing anything about it was too hard and not very appetizing from a business and P.R. perspective.

And so here we are again. Baseball has a major scandal on its hands. After some initially promising words about how serious it planned to take it, the league seems content to cordon off the known crime scene and refuses to canvass the neighborhood. Sure, if someone gratuitously hands them evidence they’ll look into it, but it sure sounds like Rob Manfred plans to react rather than act here.

That should work. At least until the next time evidence of cheating comes up and they have to start this all over again.