And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 9, Giants 8: Adonis Garcia with the walkoff two-run homer in the 12th inning. The Giants had a 6-0 lead in the sixth inning thanks in part to two Brandon Crawford homers and had a one run lead in the 12th but they blew it both times. This is the kind of loss that has to absolutely sting when you’re in a playoff race. The kind you look back at in October if you fall a game or two short and say “man, THAT’S the one we should’ve had.”

Mets 12, Marlins 1: Yoenis Cespedes hit three doubles and drove in four runs, and with that the Mets have sole possession of first place in the NL East. As fans of a losing NL East teams, the Phillies, Braves and Marlins people are no in the position of having to choose between rooting for the Mets or Nats to win the division. Hard choice. As far as team narrative goes it’s hard not to root for the Mets. Or, at the very least, Mets fans. At the same time Bryce Harper is my favorite player on either of these two teams so watching him go deep into the playoffs may be fun. Of course eventually personal fandom may win out and I’ll root for the meteor to hit Citi Field between October 2 and 4.

Diamondbacks 6, Nationals 4: Making it even harder to root for the Nationals in all of this is how uninspired their play has been lately. Fun fact: Matt Williams set up his rotation after the break in such a way as to make sure Max Scherzer never once faced the Mets in the six games those two teams just completed. Viva la sense of urgency. Here the Diamondbacks took a 6-0 lead into the ninth thanks to Zack Godley’s six shutout innings. Daniel Hudson made it interesting by allowing four runs in the ninth, but the comeback fell short. The Snakes smacked three homers off of Doug Fister and another off Jonathan Papelbon who was just in to get some work in what was then a blowout.

Blue Jays 5, Twins 1: David Price makes his Blue Jays debut and it goes swimmingly, with 11 strikeouts in eight innings. Between this, the Tulowitzki acquisition and the Twins falling off, I am growing convinced that the Jays are going to make the playoffs. And if they make the playoffs its a crapshoot, so they could easily make the World Series. I cover the World Series every year, so if they do I’ll have to go to Toronto. Except my passport is expired, so I have to get a new one. Thanks a lot, Blue Jays. You’re making me do paperwork.

Rangers 12, Astros 9: Adrian Beltre hit for the cycle. And he didn’t mess around, completing it by the fifth inning. I wonder if anyone has ever hit for the double cycle. As it was, Beltre’s cycle was the third of his career. He’s the first guy to do that in over 75 years. Of course, cycles have an element of weirdness to them in that, sometimes, it’s better to get one less total base or two in a given situation to keep the feat alive. Just ask Beltre, who maybe could’ve had a second triple in this one but held up at second base in the second inning. Could that have been your second triple, Adrian?

“I thought I might, but I changed my mind last second,” said Beltre, who rapidly circled both of his arms like he was trying to reverse his momentum.

Asked if he was thinking then about preserving the chance for a cycle, Beltre paused briefly before responding, “Maybe.”

I’m sure some play-the-game-the-right-way-folks are gonna grumble about that.

Rays 5, White Sox 4: Rookie Mikie Mahtook hit a two-out, ninth inning RBI single to put the Rays ahead for good in a see-saw game. Or was it a teetor-totter game? Guess it depends where you’re from. Either way, fans in the stands drank soda, not pop. Pop just sounds dumb. Don’t call it pop, people.

Padres 13, Brewers 5: Yangervis Solarte hit two homers, Jedd Gyorko had three hits including a bomb of his own and Alexi Amarista had three RBI as the Friars cruised. It was all over after a six-run seventh inning. As you may have heard, Pat Murphy, the Padres manager, managed Craig Counsell, the Brewers manager, when the latter played at Notre Dame. This is one of those neat facts that, were these two teams to play in a nationally televised playoff game would become less neat as the commentators mentioned it over and over and over again. Thankfully Milwaukee and San Diego aren’t allowing that to happen this year.

Mariners 8, Rockies 7: Nelson Cruz homered for this fourth straight game, getting to 30 on the year. Felix Hernandez allowed 11 hits in six and two-thirds but minimized the damage, allowing only four runs. Quite a feat at Coors Field. Nine strikeouts and only one walk help that.

Angels 5, Indians 4: The Angels end their six-game losing streak. This was the third time in four days the Angels faced a Cy Young winner. While they couldn’t get it done against Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, they managed Corey Kluber just fine, gathering five runs on ten hits in five and two-thirds.

Orioles 9, Athletics 2: Chris Davis hit a three-run shot and Adam Jones and Caleb Joseph hit dingers of their own as the Orioles took their eighth of ten. The Orioles are tied with Toronto so maybe I won’t have to use that passport.

Cubs vs. Pirates: POSTPONED: So girl, hang your dress up to dry we ain’t leaving this room
Till Percy Priest breaks open wide and the river runs through
And carries this house on the stones like a piece of driftwood
Cover me up and know you’re enough to use me for good

Yeah, I know it was rain, not a flood, but I’ve had that song in my head for two weeks and was hoping for a rainout in order to use it. Besides, they WOULD cancel a game if there was a team in Nashville and the Percy Priest dam flooded. Of this I am certain.

Rob Manfred walks back comment about 60-game season

Rob Manfred
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
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Yesterday, on The Dan Patrick Show, commissioner Rob Manfred stuck his foot in his mouth concerning negotiations with the MLB Players Association, saying, “We weren’t going to play more than 60 games.” The comment was taken poorly because MLB owners, represented by Manfred, and the MLBPA were engaged in protracted negotiations in May and June over the 2020 season. Ultimately they couldn’t come to terms, so Manfred had to set the season as prescribed by the March agreement. In saying, “We weren’t going to play more than 60 games,” Manfred appeared to be in violation of the March agreement, which said the league must use the “best efforts to play as many games as possible.” It also seemed to indicate the owners were negotiating in bad faith with the players.

Per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, Manfred walked back his comment on Thursday. Manfred said, “My point was that no matter what happened with the union, the way things unfolded with the second [coronavirus] spike, we would have ended up with only time for 60 games, anyway. As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that the course of the virus was going to dictate how many games we could play.” Manfred added, “As it turned out, the reality was there was only time to play 60 games. If we had started an 82-game season [beginning July 1], we would have had people in Arizona and Florida the time the second spike hit.”

As mentioned yesterday, it is important to view Manfred’s comments through the lens that he represents the owners. The owners wanted a shorter season with the playoffs beginning on time (they also wanted expanded playoffs) because, without fans, they will be making most of their money this year through playoff television revenue. Some thought the owners’ offers to the union represented stall tactics, designed to drag out negotiations as long as possible. Thus, the season begins later, reducing the possible number of regular season games that could be played. In other words, the owners used the virus to their advantage.

Manfred wants the benefit of the doubt with the way fans and the media interpreted his comment, but I’m not so sure he has earned it. This isn’t the first time Manfred has miscommunicated with regard to negotiations. He told the media last month that he had a deal with the union when, in fact, no such deal existed. The MLBPA had to put out a public statement refuting the claim. Before that, Manfred did a complete 180 on the 2020 season, saying on June 10 that there would “100%” be a season. Five days later, he said he was “not confident” there would be a 2020 season. Some have interpreted Manfred’s past comments as a way to galvanize or entice certain owners, who might not have been on the same page about resuming play. There’s a layer beneath the surface to which fans and, to a large extent, the media are not privy.

The likely scenario is that Manfred veered a bit off-script yesterday, realized he gave the union fodder for a grievance, and rushed out to play damage control.