And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 11, Red Sox 1; Angels 7, Red Sox 3: The Angels pick up their fourth and fifth wins in a row with lots of bombs helping the effort. Kole Calhoun, Albert Pujols and David Freese went long in game 1. In game 2 Pujols struck two more times, one of which pushed him past Mike Schmidt for 15th place all-time with his 549th career homer. He also took over the league lead from teammate Mike Trout who hit a measly one homer in the twin bill. Really, Trout, what’s wrong with you man? The Red Sox scored four runs in the four-game series, all coming in yesterday’s two games.

Nationals 7, Mets 2: The Nats didn’t have much trouble with Matt Harvey, who gave up five runs — four earned — on five hits in seven innings. The Mets left ten men on base and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, which continued the pattern from Sunday’s 18-inning win. I suppose this will become a new hot button issue in the Mets’ press because the press LOVES to talk about teams who have trouble with runners in scoring position. The larger issue, however, is that hitters who aren’t very good don’t hit well with runners in OR out of scoring position.

Rockies 8, Rangers 7: A walkoff single for Rockies’ first baseman Ben Paulsen. In supplying a walkoff RBI single, a member of the Rockies who is otherwise anonymous to all but Colorado fans has a name. His name is Ben Paulsen. His name is Ben Paulsen. HIS NAME IS BEN PAULSEN. HIS NAME IS BEN PAULSEN.

Pirates 10, Royals 7: Travis Ishikawa has stunk on ice since the Pirates picked him up on waivers, but here he hit two doubles and a homer and drove in four runs. After the game he chalked it up to luck, saying that sometimes the pitcher makes a perfect pitch that still gets hit, sometimes the batter knocks the heck out of the ball but it still gets caught. He concluded by saying “tonight was just my night when the balls began to fall.” In other news, “When the Balls Began to Fall” sounds like, say, a second album from some moderately obscure alt-country guy who is a darling in the press but who can’t really connect with a larger audience. Hipsters like to say how much they like him even though “generally, [they] don’t care for country music. Except for Johnny Cash, of course.”

Phillies 5, Rays 3: David Buchanan won the game, allowing three runs on six hits in six and a third and then he was promptly sent down to Lehigh Valley because that’s the life of a fifth starter sometimes. Cesar Hernandez doubled, tripled and drove in two and Maikel Franco had a couple of hits and an RBI for the Phillies who have won four straight.

Tigers 5, Mariners 4: Ian Kinsler homered twice, the second of which was a go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth inning. The Tigers pulled back to .500. Though it may not matter. Come back to HBT later today as I’ll have the first of a three-part series about my recent visits to Detroit and a look at the Tigers as a team in transition.

Braves 7, Dodgers 5: Nick Markakis hit his first of the season. On July 20 which, well, OK. The Braves notched four runs and five hits in four innings off of their old friend Brandon Beachy, who was making his second post-Tommy John surgery start for L.A. Eury Perez threw out Adrian Gonzalez at the plate on a play that still counts as a nice one, even if Adrain Gonzalez is slower than your grandma:

 

Reds 5, Cubs 4: Three homers were hit by Reds batters — Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Marlon Byrd — with Frazier’s being his first that was not a part of a home run derby since last month. Not that it was all homers. Because this happened. Which, mercy:

 

Diamondbacks 3, Marlins 1: The Diamondbacks  snapped a six-game losing streak and gave the Marlins their fourth straight loss. So a lot of good stuff going on here. Shortstop Nick Ahmed had ten assists, some of them slicker than grease, and hit a triple as well. David Peralta drove in two.

Padres 4, Giants 2: Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer. Kemp 15-for-39 with 4 HR in his last 10 games. Guess he’s coming back to life, though it’s likely too little, too late.

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.