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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 16, Astros 6: If Martians came down to Earth, threatening war, but we somehow managed to enter into delicate peace talks with them which, the president decided, would be capped off with a ceremony in which we showed them our national pastime featuring our most famous baseball team, and if this was the game to which we took them, the treaty would be torn up and the world would be annihilated by angry Martians. Seventeen runs were scored in the first three innings which took approximately 83 hours to play. Amazingly these teams managed to bring the whole game in under four hours, but that either had to do with everyone freezing their butts off late and mailing the last few innings in or else a Martian time warp kinda deal is happening, prelude to the full invasion.

Tigers 7, Marlins 3: Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in four, including a homer off of Jose Fernandez. Fernandez had a crazy line. Five runs on five hits suggests a guy who didn’t have anything. Thirteen strikeouts in fewer than six innings (and only one walk), well, that suggests a guy who had some great stuff. I dunno. Weird things happen sometimes. Like Saltalamacchia being the hero against the club that’s paying most of his salary this year.

Indians 7, Red Sox 6: Speaking of old friends, Mike Napoli broke a 6-all tie in the seventh with his solo shot against the Sox, which ended up being the game-winner. Clay Buchholz started the game by allowing four runs in the first. While Boston tied it up eventually, you really don’t put your team in a good position to win when you do that. Boston has a lot of people who are high on them. For those expectations to be met, they need someone besides David Price to be a solid, reliable starter. Buchholz is the most obvious candidate. Maybe he will be, but like he did in this game, he has started off poorly.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 3: Trevor Story, like Robinson Cano (see below) has four homers in his first three games. Since he’s a rookie that’s a little more notable and record breaking. It also leads to a lot of fun. The AP headline I saw for this game was “Amazing Story.” If he keeps this up we’ll see a “Neverending Story” or something eventually. Really, the guy’s name, if nothing else, is a gift to headline writers everywhere. If he kills the Phillies in a road game it’ll be “Philadelphia Story.” If he goes on a terrible skid it’ll be “American Horror Story.” He’s already something of a “Cinderella Story,” but if he does this for 18 years he’ll be “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” For right now, to Colorado fans, he’s a “Love Story.”

Rays 5, Blue Jays 3: Steven Souza homered twice. Josh Donaldson homered once. Souza didn’t leave the game with a strained right calf the way Donaldson did, though, so he comes out even farther ahead. Looked like a tough break for the MVP, but he said after the game he won’t miss time. Worth watching.

Brewers 4, Giants 3Jeff Samardzija scares some people because they think that he got that $90 million deal based on his name and rep and not where he is as a pitcher anymore. They worry that the bad 2015 they saw from him was not a blip but the beginnings of a decline. One start will not determine that, obviously, and he battled through trouble pretty well yesterday, but his first start of 2016 —  three runs on eight hits in five and a third — probably made some people make the weird signing noise Tina makes on “Bob’s Burgers.” Chris Carter hit a homer for Milwaukee. That’s what he does.

Mariners 9, Rangers 5: Robinson Cano homered for the third and fourth time in his first three games. The guy is on fire. I was pessimistic about Seattle’s chances this year but those who were less pessimistic based it on their belief that Cano had a superstar comeback season in him. Given that he really bounced back fantastically in the second half last year it’s not a crazy thing to believe. If he does look like the elite Robinson Cano we’ve seen in the past, it would go a long way toward changing the shape of the Mariners’ season from that which the more pessimistic observers expect.

Reds 4, Phillies 2: The Phillies’ bullpen fails to come through again, this time with a two-run ninth capped off by a Scott Schebler bases-loaded double off of Dalier Hinojosa, who allowed three singles before that. Tough stuff. Oh well, Phillies fans, I have this for you. Feel free to use it whenever you need to. I feel like you’re going to need it all season long.

Orioles 4, Twins 2: Chris Davis homered in the third to put the O’s up 2-1. They’d never trail thanks to a solid outing by Yovani Gallardo. Davis has two hits and two walks in two games. Which isn’t Cano-Story sexy or anything, but the Orioles have to be happy.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 1: And with that we have the first three-game sweep of the year. Juan Nicasio pitched allowed one run over six innings and Francisco Cevelli hit a two-run double. It doesn’t matter yet obviously, and this is just a case of fun dumb numbers in the first week of the season, but the 2015 Cardinals were never farther than 2.5 games out of first place last year. They’re three out now. TIME TO PANIC?! WHO CAN SAY?!

Dodgers 7, Padres 0: And with that we have the second three-game sweep of the year. This one a lot more decisive, as the Dodgers outscored San Diego 25-0 in the first three games of the year. Only silver lining is that the Padres now get to travel to Colorado. Which means the pitchers will still be scared but it basically guarantees that the offense will come out of its coma. Oh, fun stuff here: Kenta Maeda made his big league debut. In addition to getting the win with six scoreless, he hit a homer. It was the Dodgers’ first homer of the year.

Nationals 3, Braves 1: Down 1-0 in the seventh, the Nationals rallied, with the rally capped off by a Matt den Dekker two-run double. “Matt den Dekker” is probably the most fun name to say in major league baseball right now.

Athletics 2, White Sox 1: Better late than never. Sonny Gray, sidelined with either food poisoning or a stomach bug or whatever, was supposed to go on Monday. Two days of recouperation did the trick, however, and he went seven innings allowing only one run. He got the lead thanks to a Mark Canha homer in the second and never looked back.

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

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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.