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And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mariners 16, Padres 4: It was 10-0 by the third inning and 16-0 by the fifth. James Shields is being talked about as a trade target, but giving up ten runs on eight hits and four walks in two and two-thirds isn’t exactly gonna foment a bidding war. Five homers by the Mariners, two by Seth Smith. A position player, Christian Bethancourt, pitched and lit up the radar gun. A fun time was had by all. Well, all except anyone affiliated with or partial to the San Diego Padres.

Astros 8, Diamondbacks 5: George Springer singled, doubled, homered and drove in four. Batting order politics are usually silly and a lot of players say it doesn’t matter to them where they hit, but Springer was recently moved to the leadoff spot and he’s 17-for-35 with three home runs there. It’s either working for him or there are some correlation/causation illusions afoot.

Rangers 7, Indians 3: Colby Lewis tossed six shutout innings and Bryan Holaday and Jurickson Profar homered. That’s nine of 11 for them. “He knows how to pitch,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Lewis after the game. “We didn’t have to teach him. Last guy came in here threw the ball with his butt cheeks and thought the point was to let the batter hit the ball,” Banister did not add, except for in my fanciful imagination in which managers say totally hilarious and nonsensical things like that to see if the reporters are actually listening or if they’re merely holding their tape recorders up while day dreaming about opening a restaurant of finishing that novel they started five years ago.

Red Sox 6, Orioles 2: Mookie Betts was a one-man wrecking crew, hitting three homers and driving in five. Dustin Pedroia drove one in too so I suppose it was technically a two-man wrecking crew, though Betts did most of the wrecking. He went home after the game and told his wife “people say Dustin and I are quite a two-man wrecking crew, but I do most of the wrecking and he makes more money than me. It’s politics, man.” Mrs. Betts nodded thoughtfully and rubbed Mookie’s back. She knows. He never has to explain anything to her. He never has to justify himself. That’s the power of their relationship.

Nationals 5, Phillies 1: Daniel Murphy continues to be ridiculous, notching two more hits and pushing his average up to .397. Only downside of this is that it’s gonna cause a bunch of people to write “Can Murphy hit .400?” columns. The answer to that is “no, he cannot, unless he gets up to .400 this week and then is placed on the DL with some odd 19th century disease that flummoxes physicians until after the regular season is over.” The dirty secret of certain impossible to reach milestones from the Golden Age of Baseball is that they were set because there was less overall talent in the game then than now, allowing those who were supremely talented like Ted Williams to tower far more over their opposition than a player can today. Think of it like college football: a college running back can do things like average six or seven yards a carry because half of the teams he plays are fielding dudes who sort of suck by comparison. He could never do it in the NFL. The same goes for baseball. Ted Williams was great, but a lot of pitchers and defenses (and grounds crews and official scorers) from 1941 aren’t nearly as good as the ones with which Daniel Murphy has to contend today. The tougher overall level of competition and the more difficult context mitigates strongly against a .400 hitter. And that’s before you remember, “hey, this is Daniel Murphy here, not Ted Williams.” Nice season still, but don’t bother with the “can he hit .400?” columns.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1: The Jays have beaten the Yankees in 12 of their last 16 meetings. Yankees fans in my Twitter timeline have become increasingly cranky about the Blue Jays since last year. Coincidence? I think not. Kevin Pillar singled in the go ahead run in the seventh. He also made a sweet grab, flying like a freakin’ bird:

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Marlins 3, Pirates 1: Jose Fernandez tossed seven scoreless, striking out six and allowing only three hits while throwing 62 of 88 pitches for strikes. He’s pretty good.

Giants 4, Braves 0: Jake Peavy tossed seven scoreless, allowing only one hit and having that dude erased on a double play, so he faced only 21 batters. George Kontos allowed one walk in relief but the pen was otherwise perfect. The Braves are pretty bad.

White Sox 6, Mets 4: The White Sox end their seven game losing streak thanks to Tyler Saladino hitting a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning to help Chicago come back after being down four early. Todd Frazier hit a two-run homer. That’s 16 for him on the year.

Cardinals 10, Brewers 3: Four hits for Matt Carpenter. Who had four hits the day before. If he has four hits today some people are going to assume he’s doing some sort of Sim City-style money cheat thing. If I remember correctly, if you used that cheat too many times in Sim City it caused earthquakes or giant lizards to run amok or something. Please Matt Carpenter, do not cause earthquakes or lizards. Think of the innocent civilians.

Royals 10, Rays 5Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez are all injured, so of course the Royals offense has improved lately. That’s just totally predictable logic and stuff. Lorenzo Cain drove in four. Kansas City was seven games out of first on May 10. They’re two up in first place now. Watch out for earthquakes and lizards on the other side of Missouri too.

Dodgers 5, Cubs 0: Scott Kazmir and the pen combine to blank the Cubbies on a one-hitter. Chicago lost a Jake Arrieta start for the first time since the middle of last season — a span of 23 starts — despite the fact that he tossed seven scoreless innings himself. As that suggests, this game was closer than the final score would suggest. Corey Seager hit a three-run homer off Trevor Cahill in the ninth for some breathing room after the Dodgers plated two in the eighth against the Cubs’ pen. It was the Dodgers’ seventh win in nine games, despite the fact that their offense has been sputtering.

Rockies 17, Reds 4: The Rockies hit seven homers on the night, tying a franchise record for homers in a single game. Charlie Blackmon had two of them, a solo shot and a grand slam, on his five-RBI night. Nolan Arenado likewise went deep twice and drove in four. The Reds pitching staff: not great.

Angels 11, Tigers 9: This was a wild one. C.J. Cron hit two homers, including a two-run walkoff blast to break a ninth inning tie. It shouldn’t have even been tied as the Angels had a 9-2 lead entering the sixth inning, but where there’s a will, the Tigers bullpen will find a way. The clubs combined for nine homers. Jefry Marte and Mike Trout each hit a bomb for L.A. as well.

Athletics 7, Twins 4: Four in a row for Oakland. Danny Valencia homered and drove in three runs. Stephen Vogt had three hits and drove in two. Marcus Semien and Billy Burns each had two hits and drove in a run as well. The A’s have beaten the Twins in Oakland 15 of the last 18 times. Given the unbalanced schedule, that dates back to [mashes hands on calculator] 1942. Which was when this would’ve been a Washington-Philadelphia matchup. That can’t be right. [throws calculator in the trash].

Covid-19 test delays impacting multiple teams

Covid-19 test delays
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Covid-19 test delays — and at least one incident in which testers simply didn’t show up at all — have delayed workouts for at least two teams so far. And at least one team’s general manager is hopping mad about it.

Alex Coffey of The Athletic reported overnight that the Oakland Athletics have yet to have a full squad workout because of COVID-19 test delays. They were supposed to begin such workouts yesterday, but delayed them until today. They have since been delayed again until tonight, and even those may not happen.

Why? Because the initial team tests that are required before allowing the team’s full complement of players and coaches into the facility had not even arrived at MLB’s testing center in Utah as of last night. Indeed, they sat in the San Francisco airport all weekend because no one with MLB or the league’s testing company bothered to account for the Fourth of July holiday and expedite shipping.

Coffey obtained the text message Athletics’ GM David Forst sent to the entire club about the COVID-19 test delays. And, frankly, it’s gobsmacking.

The upshot, as Forst explains in the text, is that the test samples which were collected on Friday and which were due to be in Salt Lake City on Saturday sat at the San Francisco airport because of the July 4 holiday. Which, OK, fine, in which case someone should have changed the shipping instructions for Sunday delivery rather than have it just wait around until Monday like any other package. But no one bothered to do that. Forst, in the text:

On top of screwing up the logistics of this whole thing, neither MLB nor CDT (the company that collects the samples) communicated any of this to us until we pressed them for information, at which point all they could do was apologize, which frankly doesn’t really do much for us. Our best shot is to schedule a workout for [Monday] night with the hope that the samples arrive at the lab on time tomorrow and they are able to turn around your results in a matter of a few hours.

Forst goes on to say that the blame for the COVID-19 test delays “lies with CDT and MLB and I won’t cover for them like I did earlier today.”

The “covering for them” refers to comments Forst made to the media after the initial delay in testing, which he and manager Bob Melvin blew off as a routine delay, with Forst saying “We all know that being flexible and adjusting to the unknowns is going to be part of everything we do this season.” In the text, however, Forst is clearly pissed off:

Despite having our schedule a week ahead of time, they didn’t alert us to the possibility of any complications around July 4th, and once there were issues, they did nothing to communicate that to us or remedy the situation until Nick (Paparesta, the A’s head athletic trainer) and I forced the issue at various times today. If possible, I’m as frustrated and pissed as you are (well, probably not as pissed as Matt is), and I assure you the rest of the staff is as well.” 

“Matt” refers to A’s third baseman Matt Chapman, who expressed his anger at the COVID-19 test delays to Forst. He’s not the only A’s player to be upset about this:

This anger is not merely about delays to workouts which, given how compacted training camp and the season is, matter a great deal and put the A’s at a competitive disadvantage to teams who are already playing simulated games. It also poses health and safety concerns.

Pitchers and catchers have been allowed to report already and without the test results they have no idea if COVID-19 is spreading in the clubhouse or if any of them need to be isolated. Diekman has specific reason to be concerned as his history of ulcerative colitis, which caused him to have part of his colon removed a few years back, puts him in the “at risk” category. The A’s, now, get to sit around most of today waiting for testing results that, per Coffey’s report, likely, at best, arrived at the Utah testing facility after 1AM this morning.

And the MLB Covid-19 test delays, it seems, are not limited to the Oakland Athletics. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that down in Anaheim, the testers who conduct saliva tests for the Los Angeles Angels simply did not show up as scheduled yesterday. Rosenthal says that it led to Angels players conducting their own tests. He said that it was unclear if the tests were shipped to lab in Utah — the AWOL testers are supposed to do that — but he does note that today’s workouts were pushed back from 9 am to noon, most likely to account for the testing screwup.

Rosenthal says “two other, unidentified teams had same issue on Sunday,” which suggests as many as four teams, including the Athletics and Angels, are experiencing COVID-19 test delays.

This, to say the least, is inexcusable. Major League Baseball has based its entire, radical 2020 season structure on extensive health and safety protocols and an extensive COVID-19 testing regime. There is already concern on the part of some that, even with such protocols and testing, playing the 2020 season is too risky, but it’s undeniable that there is zero way for professional sports to be conducted in a pandemic without such protocols or with material COVID-19 test delays.

Mere days into the endeavor, however, we have all of this.