And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 15, Reds 6: The Ohio Series! Loser gets Ohio? They should play this series in Columbus, by the way. Actually, the exact geographic center between these the two ballparks is just north of Columbus, 3-4 miles north of the Polaris Mall on I-71, before you get to the exit for Route 37/36 a few miles east of Delaware. Lots of land to build a ballpark there. Which is also fairly close to Governor Kasich’s house. MAKE IT HAPPEN, JOHN. Anyway, the Reds actually led this one 4-0 entering the bottom of the third before the Indians went off. Yan Gomes went off more than anyone, driving in four. The Tribe notched 19 hits.

Marlins 5, Phillies 3: Marcell Ozuna has a 16-game hitting streak, and homered in this one. Bill wrote last night about how Ozuna has been using hitting coach Barry Bonds’ bats during the streak. Well, at least the same model with Bonds’ name on it, which Bonds orders for him. When he was hired as hitting coach a lot of people made jokes about how he could “help” Marlins hitters by supplying them with some of his, ahem, special products. Who knew it would be bats?

Pirates 8, Braves 5: The Pirates had a 6-0 lead before the Braves decided to wake up and start hitting, but as usual it was too little, too late for Atlanta. Actually, most of the season it’s been simply too little, full stop, so the “too late” part is an improvement. Matt Joyce homered and drove in three off the bench. Joyce is hitting .372/.500/.767 with five homers as a pinch hitter/bench dude this year. That’s the stuff of an epic player in those 1980s computer sim baseball games I used to play, none of which controlled for plate appearances and would thus give a player that kind of production over a full season’s worth of work. I DESTROYED people with Pedro Guerrero’s 1978 season. The last time I played one of those, in college, I used Chipper Jones’ 1993 line. Triples and doubles out the yang from those two.

Rays 13, Blue Jays 2: The Rays hit four homers —Curt Casali hit a three-run shot, Tim Beckham and Steve Pearce each hit two-run shots and Desmond Jennings soloed —  and won in a laugher. There are probably angry Jays fans on the Internet right now saying that they were all sucker hits or are unearthing old video of Rays hitters not signaling before turning or throwing styrofoam in recycling bins as a means of proving their poor character or something. They spent a lot of time doing that yesterday and old habits die hard.

Tigers 10, Twins 8: The Tigers blew an 8-0 lead and Brad Ausmus got ejected after one of those classic “uh-oh, they’re speculating about my job in the papers so I had better show them I still have some fire in me” meltdowns. I don’t know if him getting ejected led to the late Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez homers which salvaged the game for Detroit, but if the team somehow turns things around now and the season is saved, they’ll say that his meltdown did it. That’s how storytelling works.

Diamondbacks 12, Yankees 2: Jake Lamb singled, doubled and homered — a three-run shot — as the Dbacks cruised. Arizona scored six runs in four games against the Giants and doubled that in one night here. Lamb on his homer, which went over the swimming pool: “I got the barrel on it and the ball flew.” Still holding out hope that one day a hitter describes his home run with a total non-sequitur instead of a basic, literal description of what happened. Reporter: “talk about what happened with that homer in the sixth.” Player: “Well, I just I mambo dogfaced to the banana patch.”

Athletics 3, Rangers 1: Sean Manaea got his first major league win. He did so after cutting off his long, curly locks before the game. Or, as they used to say in the business back in the day, he “pulled a reverse Samson.” In the 90s my generation replaced that by saying he “listened to Pavement.” I don’t know what they say now. Damn Millennials.

Angels 7, Dodgers 6: The exact geographic midpoint between Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium is Norwalk, California. If anyone has any leads on a place where these guys could play there, forward it on to Stan Kasten or Arte Moreno or someone. We’ll figure it out. Albert Pujols and Mike Trout combined to drive in six runs as the Angels win their fourth in a row.

Red Sox vs. Royals — POSTPONED: Rain ammunition
The foreign prey
Winter is rapt
And it’s a cold, bitter trap
Ride away
Lose the virgin tribe (yeah)

Sign-stealing penalties could be ‘unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history’

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Early this morning we learned that Major League Baseball was planning to talk to former Astros Carlos Beltrán and Alex Cora as part of the sign-stealing investigation. Late this morning Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the investigation is, actually, going to go much wider than that.

Passan reports that Major League Baseball will not limit its focus to the 2017 Astros, who were the subject of the report in The Athletic on Tuesday. Rather, it will also include members of the 2019 Astros and will extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentions 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.

Oh, it also includes recently-fired Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who the league plans to interview but who, Passan says, has hired a lawyer. Which is sort of interesting in its own right, but let’s stay on topic.

Passan:

The league is attempting to cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating and has indicated it will consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied, sources said . . . The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history, sources said.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million when an employee, Chris Correa, hacked the Astros computer system. Correa, of course, was permanently banned from baseball and served prison time. Former Braves GM John Coppolella was likewise given a permanent ban for lying about the team’s circumvention of international signing rules. If Passan’s source is right and the league is going to level heavy penalties here, that’s where you have to start, I imagine.

To me, the stuff about Coppolella’s lying and the bit about interviewees lying mentioned in the block quote is key.

Will anyone have the hammer brought down upon them for being responsible for stealing signs? Hard to say. But they likely will if they are not forthcoming with league investigators. Which is actually a pretty decent way to handle things when one is conducting an internal investigation. Maybe you don’t give amnesty to wrongdoers in the name of information-gathering, but you do signal to them that cooperation is incentivized and lack of cooperation will be punished.

It’s an approach, by the way, that Major League Baseball notably did not take in the course of its PED investigations a decade ago. That led to a final report that had massive gaps in information and caused the league to focus on and publicize only the lowest-hanging fruit. As I argued at the time, if information-gathering, as opposed to P.R. considerations was its true aim, MLB would’ve handled it differently.

In the early stages here, in contrast, it does sound like baseball is taking this seriously. That’s a good thing.