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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 7, Royals 3: Chase Headley homered. When I heard that he did I gathered my children close and prepared myself for the meteor or for some great cosmic beast to come and consume us all, for this is End Times stuff. Didi Gregorius hit a two-run homer and Starlin Castro added a solo shot. That’s less ominous.

Orioles 7, Tigers 5: Stop me if you heard this one: the Tigers had a big lead, the starter faltered, Brad Ausmus went to his bullpen, some of you changed the channel for a bit or went upstairs to tuck the kids in and then, bam, you look up and the Tigers are losing. The five-spot the O’s put up in the seventh inning was done by virtue of five singles and Jonathan Schoop‘s  tiebreaking two-run triple. Brad Ausmus:

“We had a lead, couldn’t hold it. That’s the story of the game. There’s really not much else to it.”

No, that’s the story of the past half decade or more of Detroit Tigers baseball.

Red Sox 11, Astros 1: In a battle of aces only one ace came in and, um, aced. David Price struck out 12 and allowed only one run in six and two-thirds. Dallas Keuchel, however, was lit up for eight runs on ten hits in six. I’m sure it was all Carlos Gomez‘s fault somehow. Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts each drove in three runs. Red Sox’ run totals in the past four games: 14, 13, 13 and 11. That came against the A’s and now the Astros. In other news, the Red Sox have petitioned Rob Manfred to allow them to move to the American League West.

Phillies 7, Braves 4: Cameron Rupp hit a three-run double with two outs in the 10th inning to put the Phillies over. You’re not going to believe this, but Rupp said after the game that his hit came as a result of him “looking for a pitch I could drive.” I can’t believe Pete Mackanin is allowing his players to divulge trade secrets like that. Call this a moral victory for Atlanta as they were down 4-0 in the seventh before coming back to tie it and force extras. In late July everyone probably curls up into the fetal position and lets it end in nine.

Padres 3, Brewers 0: James Shields struck out a nine over seven shutout innings. Melvin Upton Jr. homered, had three hits in all, drove in two and scored twice. San Diego has won three in a row.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 2: Johnny Cueto scattered eight hits over seven innings while striking out nine. Zack Greinke continues to be bafflingly bad, allowing four runs on eight hits in six. He’s 3-3 with a 5.26 ERA on the season.

Cardinals 12, Angels 10: Attack of the Matts. Two homers from Holliday and three RBI from him, Carpenter and Adams. The whole lineup should change their first names to Matt. Like the reverse Ramones or something.

Dodgers 5, Mets 0: Clayton Kershaw isn’t single-handedly keeping the Dodgers afloat, but he almost is. He pushes his record to 5-1 after a monster game in which he struck out 13 in a complete game shutout, lowering his ERA to 1.74. Just a total beast of a man, amused at the notion that people are thinking there is someone else who can wear the title of “best pitcher in baseball” right now.

Rob Manfred offers little insight, shows contempt for reporters in press conference

Rob Manfred
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke at a press conference, addressing the Astros cheating scandal and other topics on Sunday evening. It did not go well.

To start, the press conference was not broadcast officially on MLB’s own TV channel (it aired the 1988 movie Bull Durham instead), nor could any mention to it or link to the live stream be found anywhere on MLB.com. When the actual questions began, Manfred’s answers were circuitous or simply illogical given other comments he has made in the past. On more than one occasion, he showed contempt for reporters for doing their jobs — and, some might argue, doing his job — holding players and front office personnel accountable.

Last month, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal broke a story about the Astros’ “dark arts” and “Codebreaker” operation, based on a letter Manfred sent to then-GM Jeff Luhnow. Diamond was among the reporters present for Manfred’s press conference on Sunday. Per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Manfred addressed Diamond, saying, “You know, congratulations. You got a private letter that, you know, I sent to a club official. Nice reporting on your part.” MLB’s response to the depth of the Astros’ cheating ways was lacking and, without Diamond’s reporting, we would have known how deeply lacking that response was. It is understandable that Manfred would be salty about it, since it exposed him as doing his job poorly, but it was an immature, unrestrained response from someone in charge of the entire league.

Onto the actual topic at hand, Manfred said he felt like the punishment doled out to the Astros was enough. Per Chris Cotillo, Manfred said Astros players “have been hurt by this” and will forever be questioned about their achievements in 2017 and ’18. Some players disagree. Former pitcher Phil Hughes even suggested the players have a work stoppage over this issue.

Manfred defended his decision not to vacate the Astros’ championship, saying, “The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act.” The commissioner devaluing the meaning of a championship seems… not great? Counterintuitive, even? The “piece of metal” is literally called the Commissioner’s Trophy. Manfred went on to brag about the league having “the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty.” Be careful, don’t hurt yourself patting yourself on the back for doing the bare minimum.

Manfred said there was no evidence found that the Astros used buzzers and added that, since the players were given immunity, he doesn’t think they would continue to hide that when asked about it. He said, “I think in my own mind. It was hard for me to figure out why they would tell us, given that they were immune, why they would be truthful and admit they did the wrong thing and 17, admit they did the wrong thing and 18, and then lie about what was going on in 19.”

The commissioner expects the league to implement “really serious restrictions” on access to in-game video feeds for the 2020 season.

There has been some recent back-and-forth between the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Astros’ Carlos Correa. Manfred isn’t a fan of the sniping through the media. He said, “I’m sort of a civil discourse person. It must be because I’m old. But, yeah, I think that the back and forth that’s gone on is not healthy.” The reason Bellinger and others are speaking publicly about the issue, attempting to hold the Astros accountable, is because the league did not do a sufficient job doing that itself. Bellinger wouldn’t feel the need to speak up in defense of himself, his teammates, and other players affected by the cheating scheme if he felt like the league had his and his peers’ backs.

Because the players involved in the Astros’ cheating scheme weren’t punished, some — like Larry Bowa — have suggested intentionally throwing baseballs at Astros players to exact justice. Manfred met with managers who were in attendance today to inform them that retaliatory beanballs “will not be tolerated.” He added, “It’s dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation.” Manfred has done nothing about beanball wars in the past, but it will now give the Astros somewhat of an advantage since pitchers will now be judged closely on any pitch that runs too far inside on Astro hitters.

Manfred also spoke about the ongoing feud with Minor League Baseball and basically reiterated what he and the rest of the league have disingenuously been saying since it was revealed MLB proposed cutting 42 minor league teams. Manfred’s talking point is that MLB is concerned about substandard facilities being used by minor league players, but not all of the 42 teams on the proposed chopping block have anything close to what could reasonably be considered substandard.

Lastly, Manfred was asked about the Orioles and tanking, and more or less danced around the issue by expressing confidence in the club’s ownership. The Orioles have won 47 and 54 games in the past two seasons. Payroll dropped by more than $50 million. The Orioles saw over 250,000 fewer fans in attendance in 2019 than in ’18. The O’s also saw a decline of over 460,000 fans in attendance from 2017 to ’18. But, yeah, it’s going well.

All in all, this press conference could not have gone worse for Manfred. The press found it condescending and the comments he made rang hollow to the players. Manfred seemed on edge and unprepared addressing arguably the biggest controversy baseball has faced since the steroid era. This is a dark time for the sport.