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Rich Hill silences Cubs in 6-0 victory, Dodgers take 2-1 NLCS lead

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On paper, Jake Arrieta versus Rich Hill seemed like an even matchup. In reality, Game 3 of the NLCS, it wasn’t even a contest as Hill brought his A-game and Arrieta brought his C-game. The Dodgers skated to a 6-0 victory on Tuesday evening, taking a 2-1 series lead over the Cubs.

The Dodgers opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. Andrew Toles led off with a single to left, advanced to second base on a ground out by Hill, then scored with two outs on a Corey Seager single to left field. Yasmani Grandal added two runs in the fourth with a two-run homer to right field. The Dodgers tacked on another in the fourth as Justin Turner drilled a solo homer to center field, chasing Arrieta from the game.

Arrieta went five innings, giving up the four runs on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts on 83 pitches. It’s the third time in five postseason starts that Arrieta has given up four runs in fewer than six innings of work.

Hill, meanwhile, was masterful. The lefty went six shutout innings, limiting the Cubs to two hits and two walks with six strikeouts on 93 pitches. Considering he pitched 4 1/3 mediocre innings in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Nationals and lasted 2 2/3 innings in a short-rest start in Game 5, it’s the kind of start the Dodgers yearned for out of Hill.

Joe Blanton took over in the seventh and executed a 1-2-3 inning, getting Javier Baez to line out, pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan to ground out, and Jason Heyward to strike out.

The Dodgers sent Grant Dayton out to the mound to start the eighth. The lefty struck out Willson Contreras to start the frame then got Albert Almora, Jr. to ground out. Dexter Fowler doubled down the left field line to give the Cubs some life. Closer Kenley Jansen entered to maintain the four-run lead. Jansen struck out Bryant, ending the Cubs’ threat.

In the bottom of the eighth, against reliever Mike Montgomery, Yasiel Puig singled with one out and came around to score on a double down the left field line by Joc Pederson, improving the Dodgers’ lead to 5-0. Pederson scored on a Grandal ground out, making it 6-0.

Jansen came back out for the ninth for some reason, protecting what had become a six-run lead. Ben Zobrist grounded out to first base. Anthony Rizzo reached on an infield single, but Jansen bounced back to strike out Baez and induce a game-ending lineout by Coghlan.

The Cubs have now been shut out in back-to-back games in the NLCS. The Dodgers will look to extend their NLCS lead in Game 4 on Wednesday evening. They’ll send Julio Urias to the bump, opposing Cubs right-hander John Lackey in an 8:00 PM EDT start.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: