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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights


Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Reds 7, Phillies 4: Going with a zillion pitchers and a short bench is always lame, but it’s especially lame early in the season when everyone’s pretty fresh and there are some days off built in. You can negate that self-inflicted disadvantage, however, if you send up a pitcher as a pinch hitter with orders to hit a homer. Here Bryan Price, I’m sure, explained to Michael Lorenzen that a homer was preferable and Lorenzen obliged him. The Reds pitcher hit the first pinch-hit homer by a big league pitcher in eight years, putting the Reds ahead for good. Daniel Nava hit two homers for Philly in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Twins 5, Royals 3: The Twins drew seven walks yesterday. In three games against the Royals they notched 25 hits and 23 walks. That’s quite a thing, both for the Twins and for the Royals. Anyway: a sweep for Minnesota.

Rockies 2, Brewers 1Nolan Arenado led off the ninth with his first homer of the year, breaking a 1-1 tie. Earlier Mark Reynolds homered for the Rockies’ first run. Antonio Senzatela, making the jump from Double-A, made his big league debut for Colorado, tossing five shutout innings and striking out six. Not too shabby.

Cubs 6, Cardinals 4Kyle Schwarber hit a go-ahead, three-run homer, with the rally being kicked off by that ball that stuck to Yadier Molina‘s chest protector, allowing leadoff hitter Matt Szczur to reach base. Here it is again in case you missed it:

I imagine we’ll have a discussion about doctored baseballs and stuff over the next few days. It’s a pretty dreary and silly conversation at this point. Mostly because baseball itself doesn’t care about pitchers doctoring baseballs. Unless it’s “obvious” in a Michael Pineda way. Which is a dumb standard, meaning there is practically no standard about the doctoring as much as there is one about decorum. And lord knows how dumb baseball decorum conversations can be.

One thing I can predict, though: a lotta people, reasonably for the most part, will believe that either the ball or Yadi’s chest protector or both had some goo on it. They will generally not be Cardinals fans. A lot of people — almost 100% Cardinals fans — will say this was not goo at all but rather [insert some JFK-style magic bullet theory here].

If you introduce irrational standards regarding player behavior, you’re inviting irrational explanations, and those go very will with fandom, which is itself irrational, generally speaking. So have fun with the debate, folks. I’m mostly gonna sit it out.

White Sox 11, Tigers 2: New White Sox Geovany Soto hit two homers and James Shields allowed one run on two hits and struck out five in five and a third. As for the Tigers, there was a lot of talk about the back of the rotation this spring and questions as to whether Matthew Boyd or Anibal Sanchez belonged there. Here they both pitched with Boyd giving up five runs in the start and Sanchez giving up five runs in relief, so all that debate was for nothing!

Dodgers 10, Padres 2: Yasiel Puig went deep twice. He also drew two walks. So far on the year he’s at .416/.563/1.250 with three homers, 5 RBI and 4 walks. Is that good?

Athletics 5, Angels 1: Triggs beats Skaggs. Andrew over Tyler. One run, unearned, over five and two thirds vs. five runs on five hits over five and one third. The A’s and Angels split their four-game series.

Marlins 4, Nationals 3: The Marlins scored all four of their runs from the eighth inning on, coming from behind twice, and winning this one in the 10th via a Justin Bour go-ahead double. The Nats looked for bullpen help all winter after Mark Melancon left. They didn’t find much of it, but they put a happy face on things all spring. All teams do this with their shortcomings, of course. There are optimistic fluff pieces all February and March in which weaknesses are dismissed and a rosy picture is painted about how great The Grand Plan is. Then, in the first week or two of every season, I think of this, one of my favorite sports-related quotes of all time:

Mets 6, Braves 2: Matt Harvey allowed two runs over six and two-thirds in his season debut, allowing every Mets partisan to breathe a sigh of relief. It’s hard to overstate how bad Harvey was last year before going down and how much better the Mets will be if he’s healthy and even close to his old form in 2017. Otherwise, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead, two-run double and Wilmer Flores a two-run homer as the Mets cruised.

Blue Jays 5, Rays 2: Kendrys Morales hit a grand slam in the third inning and the Jays never looked back. Marcus Stroman allowed one run while pitching into the seventh, aided by three double plays behind him and a fourth double play that allowed Joe Biagini to get out of a jam Stroman himself created before leaving in the seventh.

Mariners 4, Astros 2: Tied 2-2 in the ninth, Jarrod Dyson hit a tiebreaking RBI single. Then Jean Segura added some insurance with an RBI single of his own. Mitch Haniger homered as well, as Seattle gets its first win of the year.

Diamondbacks 9, Giants 3Jake Lamb hit a three-run homer, David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt each hit solo shots, and the Snakes took three of four from their division rivals to start the year. The Giants won 9 of the 10 games played by these two clubs at Chase Field last year and hadn’t dropped a four-game series against the Dbacks in Arizona in nine years.

Pirates vs. Boston — POSTPONED:

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

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

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images

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: