Associated Press

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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I think we still have a couple of home openers to go, but we’re almost to regular run-of-the-mill, day-in, day-out baseball. Yesterday, however, there was still some pomp and still some circumstance.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cardinals 10, Brewers 1: Jeremy Hazelbaker went 4 for 4 with a triple, double and sacrifice fly and is now 10-for-19 with five RBI on the young season. He’s a 28-year-old rookie who played seven seasons in the minors before 2016. The Cardinals just manufacture guys like this, though. It’s like their minor league coordinator is Morgoth and players like Hazelbaker are forged in Mordor, in mockery and envy of other teams, of whom they are afterwards the bitterest foes.

Orioles 9, Red Sox 7: Six straight wins to start the season for the O’s. That puts me in mind of the gold standard for hot starts of my youth, which was he 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, who began 13-0. Of course they also had a 12-game losing streak a month later. Man that team was crazy streaky. Won 91 games, though, which while not good enough to make the playoffs back in the pre-wild card days would be a nice total for this year’s Orioles. Here Chris Davis hit a three-run shot off of Craig Kimbrel to break a 6-6 tie in the ninth. The O’s bats also got to David Price, scoring five in five innings. If you can’t count on Price and Kimbrel, man, what can you count on in this crazy world?

Pirates 7, Tigers 4: Justin Verlander had a great second half last year and was sharp all spring and there was this “JV is BACK” sentiment floating around. This start, however — 4.1 IP, 10 H, 7 ER — looked like old-new JV, not new-new JV and especially not old-old JV. Or maybe it’s just the case that the Pirates are really, really good and everyone has a bad day sometimes.

Padres 4, Phillies 3: An infield fly rule and a squeeze play figured in prominently here, in case you’re needing to go bother your non-baseball fan coworkers with a bunch of “beauty and nuance of the game” baloney at the water cooler this morning. Normally it’s just U.S. soccer fans which pull that stuff with their otherwise uninterested coworkers, but I feel that baseball is fertile ground for you to become That Guy too. Here are the details of the infield fly rule play, but the upshot is that it took the Phillies out of a potential rally. The squeeze came from Alexi Amarista in the seventh innings, scoring Derek Norris with the go-ahead run. I hope Andy Green got himself a beer after this one, because that’s a W to the manager.

White Sox 4, Twins 1: The Twins are now 0-7 and are probably sending this article to everyone they know (NSFW language warning). Bright side, though: they’re still only one third of the way to the 1988 Orioles. And that club had already fired its manager by now.

Marlins 10, Mets 3: A seven-run second inning capped by a Giancarlo Stanton homer pretty much ended this one not long before it got started and handed Steven Matz his first regular-season loss. Every Marlins starting position player had a hit and scored a run. The Mets are 2-4 and that same link from the White Sox-Twins recap applies to them, but you still know the tabloids are gonna start poking pretty soon.

Nationals 6, Braves 4: Being a Braves fan makes life easier to live sometimes. They scored four runs in the first two innings off of Max Scherzer and, if you rooted for another team, you might feel hopeful at that point. If you’re a Braves fan, though, you know that things will even out, your team will still manage to lose and thus you avoid all of that unhealthy up-and-down that’s hard on the heart and stomach. Also: before the game is over you can catch up on the stuff on your DVR and even enjoy it some. Like “Gotham,” which I am about 95% hate-watching at this point but which, because two hours of Braves baseball preceded it, actually was OK. Like, I want Paul Reubens’ character and his weird family to get their own spinoff, set about 10 years previously. Which would make that show a prequel of a prequel of sorts. Otherwise “Gotham,” like the 2016 Braves, is mostly hot garbage.

Cubs 5, Reds 3: Brandon Finnegan had a no-hitter going until there were two outs in the seventh inning. That’s when David Ross broke things up and the Cubs went on to score two runs charged to him. It wasn’t exactly a dominant performance anyway as he walked five. The pen went on to allow three more thanks to an Addison Russell three-run homer the following inning. Reds reliever Tony Cingrani played a role in both rallies, so he’s probably feeling really awesome today. Reds fans should have a good summer of catching up on stuff on their DVRs too.

Astros 8, Royals 2: Collin McHugh got shelled in his first start of the year but he pitched seven scoreless innings here against the defending champs. He allowed eight hits, though, which by law requires us to say that they were “scattered.” Carlos Correa had three hits and two RBI, Jose Altuve had three hits and Colby Rasmus hit a two-run bomb. The top of that Houston lineup is pretty sweet: 10 hits in all for the top four of the Astros’ order.

Angels 4, Athletics 1: Mike Trout hit his first home run of the season — this one off of Sonny Gray — and Nick Tropeano pitched five scoreless innings. So I guess that means Mike Trout is good again.

Rangers 7, Mariners 3: Colby Lewis allowed one run on four hits over six innings. The Mariners scored 19 runs in their two wins last week, both against Texas. They’ve scored nine runs in their five losses. That’s not good. Also: it’s more data in my grand theory that — hear me out now — teams don’t score as much when they lose. Or they lose when they don’t score much. I have to gather more data before I can make any definitive conclusions.

Astros hitting coach receives 20-game suspension; A’s Laureano six

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Houston Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine Tuesday for his role in a benches-clearing brawl at Oakland, while Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano was given a six-game suspension and a fine.

Cintron’s suspension is the longest for an on-field transgression in 15 years, since Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers received 20 games for his altercation with two cameramen in 2005.

“I accept MLB’s suspension and will learn from this,” Cintron said in a statement. “Although I never referenced Ramon’s mother, my actions were inappropriate. I apologize for my part in Sunday’s unfortunate incident. As coaches, we are held to a higher standard and should be an example to the players. Hopefully, other coaches will learn from my mistake so that this never happens again in the future.”

Laureano appealed, so his discipline didn’t begin Tuesday night in Oakland’s game against the Angels. He was in the lineup batting second and playing center field at Angel Stadium.

Laureano was hit by a pitch from Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 7-2 victory Sunday. He began exchanging words with a gesturing Cintron then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward the 41-year-old Cintron.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder got to the hitting coach. Laureano is a former Astros player and the rival clubs have been the top two in the AL West the past two years. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, another former Houston player, revealed the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in November to The Athletic.

Laureano was hit for the third time in the weekend series swept by Oakland – the fifth time the A’s were hit in all while the Astros didn’t get plunked once – and he pointed at Castellanos.

Players rushed out of both dugouts. Laureano was ejected by plate umpire Ted Barrett, and the umpiring crew could easily be heard yelling at the players to “get back to the dugout!” through a ballpark with no fans.

“I just thought that, whew, boy they threw the book at us big time. But what can you do?” said Astros manager Dusty Baker, who had already been ejected by the time the brawl occurred and didn’t see it on TV. “The ruling is the ruling. I talked to the powers that be in the commissioner’s office this afternoon and we had a good conversation. So … we have to deal with it and hopefully this brings our guys even closer together. He was a big part of our team.”

The A’s lost the AL wild-card game each of the past two seasons after winning 97 games both years to place second in the AL West behind three-time reigning division champion Houston, which won a World Series in 2017 and an AL pennant last season.

Laureano began Tuesday batting .259 with three homers and 10 RBIs as the A’s regular center fielder and No. 2 hitter.

“It’s just something we have to deal with,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the suspension. “I don’t make those decisions, and whatever I think about them doesn’t really matter anyway, so I think the best thing to do is try to get it behind us as quickly as we can.”

Melvin wasn’t sure how he would potentially structure his outfield and lineup without Laureano for several games.

“You can’t replace him,” Melvin said. “You just have to play short.”

The Dodgers and Astros had their own dustup when Los Angeles visited Houston last month. LA lost the ’17 World Series to the Astros when the sign-stealing scam was happening.

In announcing the punishments, MLB said Cintron’s discipline was “for his role in inciting and escalating the conflict between the two clubs.” Given the coronavirus pandemic, baseball has established strict guidelines about avoiding brawls.

“The explanation was that he’s a coach and especially with the COVID situation out here … in essence they’re not going to stand for it,” Baker said. “Basically, somebody had to be the example. Especially in these times that we’re going through.”

A former infielder from Puerto Rico, Cintron played parts of nine major league seasons with Arizona, the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore and Washington. He won’t be eligible to coach again until Sept. 2, when the Astros are scheduled to host Texas.

“Cintron said what he did was wrong, and he apologized for it,” Baker said. “It still doesn’t take the fact away that it happened.”