And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 9, Red Sox 1: Gary Sanchez hit two homers and drove in five and Michael Pineda allowed only an unearned run and struck out eight over seven innings of work. David Price said he wasn’t talking to the media except on days he pitched. Yesterday he pitched. And he gave up six runs on eight hits in five innings. I’m sure he was looking forward to that conversation for the rest of the game but, to his credit, he refrained from expletive-filled rants and simply answered questions.

Diamondbacks 15, Padres 3: This game started at 3:40 Eastern time and lasted less than three hours, so Senator McCain has no excuses if he’s less than sharp today. Chris Iannetta hit a two run homer and drove in five more runs with a pair of RBI doubles. Ten of the Dbacks’ 15 runs came with two outs.

Giants 9, Brewers 5: This game had everything. Lead changes. A blown ninth inning. A big extra innings rally. A guy with no pants storming the field:

You know, the usual. As for the baseball, Giants closer Mark Melancon, blew a two-run lead in the ninth by giving up a leadoff homer to Eric Sogard and an RBI single to Travis Shaw‘s before recording an out. He stopped the damage there, however, and his teammates rallied for four in the tenth.

Reds 5, Cardinals 2: A four game sweep for the Reds capped with a four-hit day from Joey Votto. One of those hits was a two-run shot. Adam Duvall had three hits. It’s the first time the Reds have swept the Cardinals in a four game series since 2003. The Cards have lost seven in a row.

Angels 11, Tigers 4: The Tigers had an early 4-1 lead but Michael Fulmer faltered and the bullpen utterly failed. The Angels took the lead with a four-run fifth and piled on six runs in the seventh. Eric Young Jr. had three hits and scored three times and Danny Espinosa drove in three.

Nationals 6, Orioles 1: A makeup game no one wanted to play. The Nats were coming off of a west coast road trip and Orioles just played a couple of long, tough extra innings games against the Pirates which drained their bullpen. The starters were fresh, but only one of them pitched well. Joe Ross of the Nats gave up one run and four hits over seven and a third innings, striking out 12 and not walking anyone. His secret:

“Tried to execute and keep the ball down”

Oh, thanks.

Stephen Drew homered and Trea Turner had three hits and three stolen bases

Marlins 7, Pirates 1: Often times guys have a bad outing following a no-hitter. Not Edinson Volquez. The Marlins starter, who no-hit the Diamondbacks last Saturday tossed seven shutout innings here, allowing only three hits and striking out eight. He’s lowered his ERA on the season by more than a run in just his last two starts. Derek Dietrich and Christian Yelich each had three hits, each with two doubles.

Rays 7, White Sox 5: Derek Norris has not had a good week off the field, but on the field yesterday he was just fine, homering in the third and the fourth innings. Peter Bourjos and Colby Rasmus also homered for Tampa Bay. Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier left the game with a jammed right hip after sliding into first base while trying to beat out an infield hit in the fifth. Sliding into first base is never a good idea, people. Ever.

Braves 3, Phillies 1: R.A. Dickey hasn’t had a good year so far, but last night he got things right, allowing only one run on three hits in seven innings. The highlight of this game, however, may have been when Maikel Franco hacked at a knuckleball, lost control of the bat and sent it flying into the protective netting. Where it got stuck:

 

Rockies 4, Cubs 1: All of the scoring was over after the second inning in this one, with Kris Bryant hit a solo homer in the first and Charlie Blackmon and D.J. LeMahiew each knocking runs, on a double and a homer, respectively, in the second. Tyler Chatwood went six innings, allowing only tat Bryant homer. That’s five straight wins for Colorado. For years the deal with the Rockies was that, if they could only get average pitching, they had a fighting chance given their offensive environment. So far this year Colorado has a top-10 pitching staff in all of baseball.

Astros 6, Royals 1: It was a 1-1 game heading into the ninth, thanks in large part to Lance McCullers, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. McCullers wasn’t able to hang around for the decision, but his teammates did their part in the final frame, scoring five runs thanks in part to Jose Altuve‘s  two-run homer. Jason Hammel was pretty dang good himself, allowing only one run over seven.

Twins 2, Mariners 1: The M’s five-game winning streak came to end, thanks in part to Robinson Cano who made two errors on one play, allowing the Twins’ go-ahead run to score in the fifth. The Twins first run came on a Jason Castro homer in the fourth.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.