Getty Images

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

14 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mariners 4, White Sox 3: On a day when a lot of bullpens woofed up a lot of leads, the David Robertson and the White Sox get the award for the biggest woof. Leading 3-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Robertson allowed three singles and a walk, making it 3-1 with two outs and two on. Then Adam Lind came in to pinch it. On the second pitch he saw he jacked a three-run homer. Ballgame. It was bad enough that Robertson blew the lead, but it also blew a game in which Chris Sale gave up only one hit in eight shutout innings. He was at 100 pitches even and was on nine days rest from actual work — a game in which he threw only 88 pitches — and five days rest from his one inning of work in the All-Star Game. He had thrown more than 100 pitches in 14 of his other 18 starts this season. I guess hindsight is 20/20 but I also guess that Sale could’ve brought this one home if Robin Ventura was inclined to allow it.

Royals 7, Indians 3: Corey Kluber pitched seven shutout innings. Then Cleveland relievers Bryan Shaw and Jeff Manship gave up seven runs in the eighth. This was the second worst train wreck to affect Cleveland last night. Jarrod Dyson‘s grand slam was the topper that inning. After that Dyson homer Melania Trump said “In a year that has been so improbable the impossible has happened!” She’s so eloquent.

Yankees 2, Orioles 1: An A-Rod homer and a Brian McCann sac fly should not be enough offense to hold up against the Orioles, but it was on this night. Ivan Nova allowed one run over six and the Betances/Miller/Chapman troika did what it was designed to do, tossing three shutout innings. Are they still calling them “No-Run DMC?” Did that ever really stick beyond the first month or so of the season? I don’t feel like your relief corps gets a nickname when two-thirds of it are on the trading block, but if they really want me to call them that I will.

Athletics 7, Astros 4Yonder Alonso drove in three runs, Khris Davis hit his fourth home run in his last three games, Kendall Graveman got his fifth straight win and the A’s won their third game in the past four. Hi, I’m Craig, and I invented the one-sentence game story. You may call it lazy and reductive, but since I call it a “disruptive sportswriting model” and have a Mountain View, California P.O. Box address, the company I formed to market it — SribeEx — is now valued at $3.4 billion. God, people are suckers.

Marlins 3, Phillies 2: The Phillies took a 2-0 lead into the top of the ninth before Christian Yelich doubled in a run and Marcel Ozuna singled in Yelich. In extras Martin Prado hit a 400-foot homer in the 11th and A.J. Ramos locked it down. The Marlins had been 0-40 when trailing after eight innings before this one. There’s still a lot of time to go in the season but they’re starting to take on the air of a ~frisky~ team that could be dangerous if they make the playoffs. BTW: Jose Fernandez struck out 14 in six an a third innings.

Cubs 5, Mets 1: Anthony Rizzo hit a three-run homer in the third, Jon Lester pitched one-run ball into the eighth and the Mets never really threatened. Steven Matz is 0-5 in his last nine starts.

Tigers 1, Twins 0: Justin Upton‘s homer was the only scoring here as Matt Boyd and three Tigers relievers combined for a shutout. The homer reminded me of a time several years ago when Upton started out hot with the Braves and someone decided to make a Twitter account that did nothing but tweet when Upton homered. After Upton cooled off he stopped doing it so someone else started it up. He gave up after 11 tweets and only got to tweet “yes” once:

That’s not any sort of commitment. That’s what’s wrong with the younger generation, really. They never finish what they

Reds 8, Braves 2: A five-run fourth inning powered by three homers was all the Reds really needed here. Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez each hit two-run shots that frame and Zack Cozart hit a solo homer. Fun fact: Braves reliever Mauricio Cabrera threw a pitch 103.8 mph, according to MLB’s Statcast system. That’s the ninth-fastest pitch in the two-season history of Statcast. 1-8 are all Arolids Chapman pitches.

Cardinals 10, Padres 2: Mike Leake struck out 11 dudes in six innings and didn’t walk anybody. In his last start he struck out 10 dudes and didn’t walk anybody. “He’s able to make big pitches in big situations,” Mike Matheny said, continuing a streak of 10,000 straight player/manager quotes about “making pitches” that are basically completely unilluminating.

Rockies 7, Rays 4: The Rays have lost 11 in a row. Trevor Story hit his 22nd homer. The Rockies bullpen bent a good bit late but never broke.

Angels 9, Rangers 5: The Rangers had a 4-0 lead but the Angels steadily chipped back and took the lead. After the Rangers regained the lead, 5-4, the Angels chipped again, going ahead 6-5 in the seventh. Then Mike Trout provided some insurance with a three-run homer. The bad news: that 4-0 deficit came while Nick Tropeano was on the hill for the Angels. He was just activated from the disabled list July 4, but had to leave two innings and four runs in due to elbow soreness. He’ll undergo an MRI today.

Whitewash: Rob Manfred says he doesn’t think sign stealing extends beyond the Astros

Getty Images
25 Comments

Rob Manfred said today that he believes the sign-stealing scandal which has taken over the news in the past week does not extend beyond the Houston Astros. His exact words, via Jeff Passan of ESPN:

“Right now, we are focused on the information that we have with respect to the Astros. I’m not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We’ll deal with that if it happens, but I’m not going to speculate about that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.”

This is simply incredible. As in literally not credible.

It’s not credible because, just last week, in the original story in The Athletic, it was reported that the Astros system was set up by two players, one of whom was “a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources . . . they were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good. They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.”

The very next day Passan reported that Major League Baseball would not limit its focus to the Astros. Rather, the league’s probe was also include members of the 2019 Astros and would extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentioned 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.

Add into this the Red Sox’ pre-Cora sign-stealing with Apple Watches and widespread, informed speculation on the part of players and people around the game that many teams do this sort of thing, and one can’t reasonably suggest that only the Houston Astros are doing this.

Which, as I noted at the time, made perfect sense. These schemes cannot, logically, operate in isolation because players and coaches change teams constantly. In light of this, players have to know that their sign-stealing would be found out by other teams eventually. They continue to do it, however, because they know other teams do it too. As is the case with pitchers using pine tar or what have you, they don’t rat out the other team so they, themselves, will not be ratted out. It’s a mutually-assured destruction that only exists and only works if, in fact, other teams are also stealing signs.

So why is Major League Baseball content to only hang the Astros here? I can think of two reasons.

One is practical. They had the Astros fall in their lap via former Astro Mike Fiers — obviously not himself concerned with his current team being busted for whatever reason — going on the record with his accusation. That’s not likely to repeat itself across baseball and thus it’d be quite difficult for Major League Baseball to easily conduct a wide investigation. Who is going to talk? How can baseball make them talk? It’d be a pretty big undertaking.

But there’s also the optics. Major League Baseball has had a week to think about the report of the Astros sign-stealing and, I suspect, they’ve realized, like everyone else has realized, that this is a major scandal in the making. Do they really want to spend the entire offseason — and longer, I suspect, if they want a thorough investigation — digging up unflattering news about cheating in the sport? Do they really want to be in the bad news creation business? I doubt they do, so they decided to fence off the Astros, hit them hard with penalties, declare victory and move on.

Which is to say, it’s a whitewash.

It’s something the league has tried to do before. They did it with steroids and it didn’t work particularly well.

In 1998 Mark McGwire, that game’s biggest star at the time, was found to have the PED androstenedione in his locker. It was a big freakin’ deal. Except . . . nothing happened. Major League Baseball planned to “study” the drug but most of the fallout was visited upon the reporter who made it public. It was accompanied by some shameful conduct by both Major League Baseball and the baseball press corps who eagerly went after the messenger rather than cover the story properly.

Four years later Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco went public with their PED use and said drug use was widespread. MLB’s response was slow and, again, sought to isolated the known offenders, singling out Caminiti as a troubled figure — which he was — and Canseco as a kook — which he kind of is — but doing them and the story a disservice all the same.

The league eventually created a rather toothless testing and penalty regime. Congress and outside investigative reporters filled the void created by the league’s inaction, calling hearings and publishing damning stories about how wide PED use was in the game. Eventually Bud Selig commissioned the Mitchell Report. Some ten years after the McGwire incident baseball had at least the beginnings of a sane approach to PEDs and a more effective testing plan, but it was pulled to it kicking and screaming, mostly because doing anything about it was too hard and not very appetizing from a business and P.R. perspective.

And so here we are again. Baseball has a major scandal on its hands. After some initially promising words about how serious it planned to take it, the league seems content to cordon off the known crime scene and refuses to canvass the neighborhood. Sure, if someone gratuitously hands them evidence they’ll look into it, but it sure sounds like Rob Manfred plans to react rather than act here.

That should work. At least until the next time evidence of cheating comes up and they have to start this all over again.