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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 9, Athletics 4: Decidedly less horses**t here than the night before, as the bats woke up. Justin Verlander looked pretty good too, at least until he ran out of gas in the seventh. I was watching this one. I know I’ve made a bunch of comments about Brad Ausmus’ job security lately — and they are totally subjective comments based on a cosmic vibe I’m picking up as opposed to actual news or rumors lately and not based on me WISHING he’d get fired or anything — but I still feel that way despite a relatively easy win. Verlander was pissed when Ausmus came to get him, and it seemed less like that “hey, he’s a competitor” thing than a “Jesus, are you KIDDING me?” thing. And while there is obviously no safe lead when the Tigers bullpen is involved, Ausmus did seem to manage the living hell out of the last couple of innings and iso shots of him in the dugout suggested a guy who hasn’t exhaled since early 2014. I dunno, things just seem off in Detroit, the win notwithstanding, and you just get the sense that a crusty SOB who’s been there and done that in ways Ausmus hasn’t would be a better fit right now.

Marlins 2, Dodgers 0: Switched to this one after the A’s-Tigers game was over. Some teams just go through a time when, as you watch them, you KNOW they aren’t getting many hits, let alone any big ones. They just look lost and impotent at the plate, flailing with pre-defeat. That’s the Dodgers the past couple of days. Marlins starter Justin Nicolino was almost toying with them, throwing 2-hit ball into the eighth. He wasn’t dominant — he struck out only two — but every pitch he threw looked like it weighed 100 pounds and the Dodgers, even if they made contact couldn’t send it anywhere. I’ll likewise admit, by the way, that I was on my second bourbon during this game so if my impressions of it were more poetic or fatalistic or something, that’s probably why.

Giants 13, Padres 9: The sweep, thanks in part to Brandon Belt driving in five, in part to the Padres are revolting. I mean they stink on ice. The Giants have won five of six.

Phillies 3, Nationals 0: Jeremy Hellickson — the old man of this rotation now that Charlie Morton is out — allowed only two hits over seven. The Phillies are playing .500 ball, folks. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

White Sox 4, Blue Jays 0: Quintana, man. That creep can roll (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 10K).

Red Sox 9, Braves 4: Dustin Pedroia hit a grand slam and a solo shot. His two homers in this game are one shy of what the entire Braves roster had hit all season coming into this game. Freddie Freeman‘s more or less meaningless solo shot in the eighth broke Atlanta’s long homerless streak and gave them four on the year. I presume this is going on the season highlight reel, which will be entitled, “The 2016 Atlanta Braves: Getaway Day All Year Long.”

Mets 5, Reds 2: Six in a row for New York. Neil Walker hit his ninth homer. He took the place of Daniel Murphy who, at least late last year, hit homers in bunches himself. Mets second basemen must be like system quarterbacks. It’s just like replacing them with some random USC dude or whatever.

Orioles 3, Rays 1: Joey Rickard hit a three-run homer, O’s won, but nothin’ really mattered in this game except this play from Steven Souza, which as you’ll see, looked like another play he made a couple of years ago. Dude just has no regard for his body, for gravity, or any of that crap:

[mlbvideo id=”635548783″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

 

Rangers 3, Yankees 2: Elvis Andrus had a game-winning RBI triple. A couple of the game stories I’ve read talk about Alex Rodriguez‘s 100th career homer in the Rangers’ ballpark. Am I the only one who has sort of blocked out A-Rod’s Rangers years? We’ll never forget they existed because they’re the ones that gave him that $250 million contract, but my memories of him playing actual baseball games in a Rangers uniform are almost nil.

Pirates 9, Rockies 8: The Pirates blew a lead and were forced into extras, but Jordy Mercer hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the 12th. There are not a lot of easy marks in the Pirates lineup so far on the year. Heck, until the past few days Andrew McCutchen may have been the easiest one. Gonna be a scary team as the weather warms up.

Indians 6, Twins 5: Cody Allen retired Joe Mauer with a runner in scoring position to tend the game. If he had given up a homer it would’ve been the Twins’ third walkoff in a row. If I had an intern I’d have him look up for me the record for most consecutive walkoff wins but I don’t and I’m too busy this morning what with cats to feed and stuff. Jose Berrios made his debut and gave up five runs and six hits with five strikeouts in four innings so that won’t necessarily be one for the scrapbooks even if it’s one for the memory banks. Francisco Lindor drove in three for the Tribe.

Cardinals 11, Diamondbacks 4: The Cards have scored 26 runs in three games against the Dbacks and they get to play them again tonight. That’s almost not fair. They’ve scored 45 runs in their past five games, likewise not fair. Adam Wainwright hit an RBI triple one year after injuring himself while batting. That’s definitely an improvement.

Angels 4, Royals 2: The Angels sweep the Champs, but it’s costly as they lose Huston Street to a strained his left oblique muscle playing catch before the game. Mike Trout hit a two-run homer. Yunel Escobar and Andrelton Simmons had solo shots

Astros 7, Mariners 4: Jose Altuve led off the game with a homer — it was his third leadoff homer of the season — doubled twice and scored three runs. If you go to the dictionary and look up the word “spark plug,” well, you’ll find the definition. This is not a friggin’ children’s illustrated dictionary, pal. We’re all grownups here. Jesus, what were you expecting?

Brewers vs. Cubs — 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

John Henry tries to justify the Red Sox’ trade of Mookie Betts

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Red Sox owner John Henry issued a lengthy statement to fans today trying to explain and justify the team’s trade of Mookie Betts. It’s a master class in distortion that will, in all likelihood, make no one happy.

Henry starts by talking about “challenges.” The “particularly challenging” offseason the Red Sox had, the “extraordinary challenges” the Red Sox faced, and the front office’s handling of these “challenges.” He goes on to talk about how he knows the “challenges” affect the fans and how he sees it as his job to protect the organization from these “challenges.”

There’s a lot of passive voice here, and at no point does Henry note that the primary challenge at play here was the team’s decision to cut payroll and get it below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. It’s just a thing that happened to the Red Sox, apparently. They had no agency in this at all.

For what it’s worth, the team keeps denying that the CBT was the motivating factor:

This is laughable, of course, given that Henry himself began the Red Sox’ offseason by specifically saying the team needed top do just that. His exact words from late September:

“This year we need to be under the CBT . . .  that was something we’ve known for more than a year now. If you don’t reset there are penalties so we’ve known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done.”

Three days later, Kennedy himself said it’d “be difficult” to keep both Betts and J.D. Martinez and accomplish that goal. When that all went over like a lead balloon with the fans Henry and everyone else tried to walk it back, but you have to be an idiot not to see what happened here:

  1. Owner demands team get under CBT;
  2. Team president says it’ll be hard to do that without one of the superstars leaving;
  3. Martinez declines to op-out of his deal;
  4. Betts is traded.

They can cite all the “challenges” they want, but they traded Betts in order to slash payroll and they slashed payroll simply because they wanted to, not, as we and many others have demonstrated, because of any compelling reason.

Instead of talking about that, Henry spends the bulk of the statement talking about how baseball’s financial system — free agency, basically — requires teams to make tough choices. Henry:

In today’s game there is a cost to losing a great player to free agency — one that cannot merely be made up by the draft pick given. . . . we felt we could not sit on our hands and let him go without getting value in return to help us on our path forward.”

Losing a player to free agency stinks, but nowhere in the entire statement does Henry mention that the Sox could’ve, you know, not lost Betts to free agency next November.

Nowhere does he note that the Sox had a full year to talk to Betts about a possible extension nor did he mention that the Sox — who print money at a faster rate than anyone except the Yankees — could’ve bid on him in free agency too. He simply does not allow for the possibility that a 2021 Boston Red Sox team could’ve done what the 2020 Washington Nationals did, for example, and sign one of their big, would-be departing free agents in Stephen Strasburg. Nor, for that matter, does he allow for the possibility that they could do what the 2019 Washington Nationals did with their all-but-certain-to-depart superstar in Anthony Rendon: hold on to him in his walk year and win a damn World Series. Guess it was a “challenge” to go into all of that.

Of course, as we’ve seen across baseball this past week, it’s really, really hard to explain something when you don’t want to admit the facts and accept the consequences of it all. That’s maybe the toughest challenge of them all.

The full statement: