And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Astros 3, Angels 0: The Astros complete a three-game sweep of the Angels and take a two-game lead in the west thanks to Jason Castro’s walkoff three-run homer. The win was aided by Scott Kazmir’s seven and two-thirds shutout innings. And now Carlos Gomez is on his way to join the fun.

Reds 15, Pirates 5: Brandon Phillips hit two three-run homers and drove in seven as the Reds demolish the Pirates. He also stole two bases. Jay Bruce drove in three as well. Word is that the Mets may be interested in Bruce, however, so expect to hear Sandy Alderson identify some mysterious physical ailment in him in the next few hours which undercuts any possible trade. Maybe a strain of his right buttock due to is wallet being too big for the Mets’ tastes.

Nationals 1, Marlins 0: Max Scherzer, Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon combine on a three-hit shutout. After the game someone asked the Nationals new closer how he was getting along with the old closer. Any strife or awkwardness with Storen, you know, losing his job?

That, um, is good.

Padres 8, Mets 7: Justin Upton’s three-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth — after a 45 minute rain delay — ended up winning the game. But not before a post-homer rain delay of nearly another three hours, thanks in part to the Mets crew having a hell of a time getting the already wet tarp back on the field. Open question as to why Jeurys Familia was allowed to resuming pitching after that first 45 minute break, but Terry Collins thought he was OK. In other news, Justin Upton, who is the subject of trade rumors, is messing with us:

Earlier in the game, Upton hugged his teammates in the dugout as if he was saying goodbye after a trade.

“I thought that was funny,” Upton said. “That’s what happens when people like to tweet everything.”

Just like Best Shape of His Life, “Hug Watch” is more or less over now that players are aware of it. Really tired of players ruining all that is great about this game.

Phillies 4, Braves 1: Philly wins its tenth in the past 12 games. Aaron Harang came off the DL to allowed one run while scattering nine hits over five innings. Fun times: despite the trade to Texas, reliever Jake Diekman was still in uniform in the Phillies bullpen because, apparently, actually finalizing trades is too hard to do these days. Wilmer Flores on Wednesday night, Michael Morse pinch hitting for the Marlins yesterday, Diekman in the pen. Jeez, guys, clean it up. Tigers should’ve started David Price for crying out loud.

Tigers 9, Orioles 8: The Tigers had a 9-2 lead in the sixth inning before their bullpen made it interesting. Not that that’s new or anything. Now that they’re selling off it doesn’t matter all that much, of course. What does matter is Yoenis Cespedes homering and driving in three runs in his final audition before the trade deadline this afternoon.

Blue Jays 5, Royals 2: Dioner Navarro, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson all homered. Ben Zobrist made his Kansas City debut and went 0-for-4. He did manage to snag his preferred number 18 from coach Rusty Kuntz, however. Hope he’s getting what he wants for it. 

Dare to dream, Rusty.

Cardinals 9, Rockies 8: The Cardinals win on a walkoff walk as the Rockies blew a two-run lead in the ninth. Matt Carpenter homered twice, going 4-for-5 with four driven in. He did so after being moved back up to the leadoff position. After the game he talked about how that helps and how he’s more comfortable there and stuff. Which is something I don’t understand at all, as after the first inning it’s just like being in any other position in the lineup. He singled then, so great, but the homers came later. Never under estimate the superstition, irrationality and love of routine of ballplayers, though.

Red Sox 8, White Sox 2: The White Sox were surging, winners of seven straight, and were sending their ace, Chris Sale to the mound. So much for momentum theory. Boston rocked Sale to the tune of seven runs on 12 hits in five innings. David Ortiz went 3-for-3 with two RBI. Xander Bogaerts also had three hits and Rusney Castillo homered in the seventh. It was only Boston’s third win in their past 15 games.

Rangers 7, Yankees 6: Josh Hamilton hit a three-run homer in the first and a walkoff single in the ninth for a nice set of bookends. It was 101 degrees at first pitch. CC Sabathia ended up going to the hospital with dehydration. I’m all for outdoor baseball but I’d love to meet the genius who decided that they didn’t need a retractable roof in Texas. I guess they build the dang thing too early — Chase Field, Safeco Field, Minute Maid Park, and Miller Park all came later — and weren’t confident that it’d work? I dunno.

Cubs 5, Brewers 2: Anthony Rizzo hit a three-run homer with two out in the eighth inning. Joe Maddon: “The whole night, it wasn’t going our way, but I liked the way we worked. And then eventually Riz steps up and does what he can do.” No diggity. In other news, baseball nicknames are dying, you guys. How is he not “Ratso?”

Twins 9, Mariners 5: Eddie Rosario had a homer, a triple, a double and drove in three. If you have to fall short of a cycle, not getting the single is the best way to do it, even if “triple short of the cycle” gets all the press. Aaron Hicks and Brian Dozier also homered.

Indians 3, Athletics 1: Carlos Carrasco was dominant, tossing a two-hitter, with both hits coming in the first inning. All the A’s managed the rest of the way was a measly walk as Carrasco went the distance, needing only 103 pitches to do so, in a game that took only two hours and fifteen minutes.

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.