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:

[mlbvideo id=”1477571583″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

 

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.

Astros, Red Sox look ahead in wake of sign-stealing scandal

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Players from two teams at the center of baseball’s sign-stealing scandal faced their fans on Saturday for the first time since the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox ousted their managers amid the fallout from the investigation into Houston’s elaborate scheme.

The Astros and Red Sox held their annual fan fests on Saturday, and instead of discussing preparations for the season, players from both teams were left to answer questions about the cheating that resulted in both teams’ managers being fired.

“It’s a tough situation and as a team we have to stay together and go through this as a team like we’ve been doing, always,” Houston star second baseman José Altuve said. “We have to talk about it at spring training and try not to let things in the past distract us for for next year.”

Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs during the Astros’ run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. Team owner Jim Crane then fired both Hinch and Luhnow. Manager Alex Cora left the Red Sox on Tuesday after Manfred’s report identified him as the ringleader of the sign-stealing scheme when he was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017.

Many Red Sox players talked Saturday about how much they liked and valued Cora and hated to see him go.

“I’m heartbroken about it,” Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez said. “I understood his side of it. He definitely didn’t want to be a distraction. He was one of my favorite, if not my favorite, managers I’ve had.”

The Astros were fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s chances of getting a hit.

MLB is also looking into whether Cora installed a similar system in Boston after arriving the following year, when the Red Sox won the World Series. No conclusions have been reached and there is no timetable; the Astros investigation took two months.

Martinez hopes MLB wraps up the investigation into the Red Sox soon so they can put this behind them.

“I’m excited for the investigation to get over with, so they can see there’s nothing going on here,” he said.

While the Astros were meeting with fans in Houston, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk called for MLB take away their World Series championship, now that it’s been proven that they cheated.

“I mean, I would like to see that obviously. I bet the Dodgers would like to see that,” Grichuk said. “I’ve got a few friends on the Dodgers that are very disappointed that possibly two years in a row they lost due to a team going against the rules.”

Many Boston players are trying not to focus on the investigation or what could be coming for the team, but instead simply trying to prepare like it’s any other season.

“MLB’s going to do what they have to do to look into it,” pitcher Nathan Eovaldi said. “I’m just trying to focus on baseball. I feel like it’s going to pass, and everything’s going to be fine.”

While Altuve didn’t have a problem answering numerous questions about the scandal, Houston third baseman Alex Bregman refused repeated attempts by reporters to get him to address what happened and kept repeating variations of the same phrase.

“The commissioner made his report, made his decision and the Astros made their decision and I have no further comment on it,” Bregman said in some variation again and again.

After being pressed on if he plans to discuss the sign-stealing in the future, Bregman finally gave an answer that didn’t seem as rehearsed.

“I think in the 2020 year our actions will speak louder than our words,” he said.

Altuve and Bregman were the only two stars at Saturday’s fan fest in Houston who were part of the 2017 championship team. Many of the other big names who helped the Astros win their first title, including World Series MVP George Springer, ace Justin Verlander and shortstop Carlos Correa, did not attend the daylong event where fans can interact with players.

Altuve was the AL MVP in 2017, and since the sign-stealing scandal broke, some have questioned whether he deserved the award. In recent days he’s also been accused of wearing an electronic device under his jersey to tip pitches, which he vehemently denies. He was asked how it feels for people to call him a cheater.

“You don’t want anybody to call you that,” he said. “But … I have two options. One is cry and one is go down and play the game and (perform) and help my team. And you know what one I am going to do.”

MLB’s investigation of Houston began after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who played for Oakland last season, told The Athletic about the team’s scheme to steal signs. Martinez said he has spoken to Fiers and gets why he came forward.

“I understand his side of it, being in that division, going against those guys. It’s an uncomfortable position for him, but I understand why he did what he did,” Martinez told reporters in Springfield, Massachusetts. “He obviously felt like he needed to and I understand it.”

In Houston, as the Astros try to put the scandal behind them and focus on the future, Altuve, who has often been described as the heart and soul of the team, is confident it won’t derail the Astros from another successful season.

“Everything will be fine,” he said. “We’re going to be in the World Series again. People don’t believe it. But we will.”