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And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Rangers 6, Nationals 3 (11 innings): Bryce Harper has more to offer than MVP-caliber home runs and deceptive batting helmet throws. He can also catch a mean line drive and throw out a runner with laser-like precision, as evidenced by this ninth-inning play during Saturday’s loss:

Unfortunately for the Nats, that wasn’t enough to keep the Rangers at bay. Nomar Mazara‘s two-run double tied the game in the ninth, followed by a game-winning homer from Robinson Chirinos in the 11th.

Mets 6, Braves 1 (Game 1): All eyes were on Yoenis Cespedes on Saturday. The outfielder slotted into the lineup for Game 1 of the Mets’ doubleheader, marking his first appearance since landing on the disabled list with hamstring and quad injuries in April. The Mets couldn’t have scripted his return better: in the ninth inning, with one out and the bases loaded, Cespedes cleaned house with his first grand slam of the year.

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Mets 8, Braves 1 (Game 2): The Mets didn’t lose any steam in their second game of the day, overpowering Atlanta starter Matt Wisler in the fifth inning and rallying for a seven-run lead through nine innings. Steven Matz took the mound for his season debut, tossing a full seven innings of one-run, two-strikeout ball en route to the Mets’ second consecutive win.

Rays 6, Athletics 5 (Game 1, 10 innings): Even a 10-strikeout outing from Sonny Gray wasn’t enough to stifle the Rays’ offensive drive during Saturday’s doubleheader. Gray faltered in the fourth inning, allowing Steven Souza Jr. a two-run single and opening the door for the Rays’ three-run rally in the sixth. Ryon Healy sent the game to extras with an RBI double in the ninth, but the A’s couldn’t quite close the deal, surrendering a walk-off base hit to Evan Longoria after 10 innings.

Athletics 7, Rays 2 (Game 2): Something finally clicked for the A’s during the second set of their doubleheader. Sean Manaea fired seven strong innings, issuing two runs on six hits and two walks and striking out five of 28 batters. In the seventh inning, home runs from Josh Phegley and Chad Pinder allowed them to pull well ahead of the Rays with a three-run outburst. No one was more impactful than Yonder Alonso, however, who totaled seven hits between the two games and became the third Athletics player to tally at least three hits in both games of a doubleheader.

Cardinals 7, Phillies 0: Five years and 152 games into his major league career, Carlos Martinez finally recorded his first complete game. The right-hander crafted eight shutout innings on three hits, a walk and nine strikeouts before he asked manager Mike Matheny’s permission to finish off the ninth inning. According to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, Matheny allowed him 15 pitches. He needed just 14, striking out Aaron Altherr and Howie Kendrick, giving up a single to Tommy Joseph and inducing a shutout-clinching groundout from Maikel Franco.

Even more impressive? Martinez completed the nine-inning shutout after taking an 87.7 MPH pitch to his throwing hand in the seventh.

Rockies 9, Cubs 1: The Rockies cruised to their seventh consecutive win this weekend and have now won eight of their first nine games in June. At least part of that success can be chalked up to manager Bud Black’s approach to statistics and in-game strategy, some of which he outlined for the media on Saturday. On the field, the win was highlighted by a solid performance by Mark Reynolds, who went 4-for-5 with a pair of base hits, RBI double and a home run that cleared the perimeter of Wrigley Field:

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The Cubs took their fourth straight loss, but at least deserved honorable mention for the best pregame dance party:

Pirates 7, Marlins 6: The Marlins jumped out to an early lead on Saturday afternoon, working a pair of RBI doubles for a three-run lead in the first inning. That didn’t alleviate the pain of losing Giancarlo Stanton, however, who exited after taking a 95.3 MPH pitch to his right hand:

Neither Dan Straily nor Trevor Williams made it past the fourth inning, leaving both bullpens to corral two hot-hitting offenses. Tied 6-6 in the seventh, John Jaso produced the go-ahead run with a ground-rule double to the right field corner. Better than winning (at least for the Marlins) was the news that Stanton’s X-ray results were negative. Miami’s top slugger should be good to go after dealing with residual swelling and soreness from the hit by pitch.

Twins 3, Giants 2: Brian Dozier put up the game-winning shot with his go-ahead, two-RBI home run in the fifth inning, but it was Kenny Vargas who stole the spotlight on Saturday. His 471-foot, 116 MPH blast off of the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija was both the Twins’ longest and hardest-hit home run in the Statcast era.

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Royals 12, Padres 6: Beating a last-place team may not come with the same bragging rights as beating one of the best, but there was plenty for the Royals to be proud of following their win on Saturday. They erupted for five home runs against the Padres, including a solo homer and grand slam from Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar‘s first home run of the year and Salvador Perez‘s 100th career blast.

Astros 3, Angels 1: The Astros aren’t ready to relinquish their hold on the AL West title just yet. Right-hander Mike Fiers dominated the Angels on Saturday, striking out eight batters and allowing one run en route to his fourth win of the year. While he’s averaging 5.57 runs of support per outing, he needed just three to get through the game: a solo home run from Brian McCann, sac fly from Yuli Gurriel and RBI single from Carlos Correa.

White Sox 5, Indians 3: What happens when the league’s best pitching staff meets an immoveable force? For starters, that immoveable force goes 30 at-bats without a single strikeout. The White Sox strung 30 consecutive at-bats without whiffing once — 35 straight at-bats dating back through Friday’s match-up with the Indians — then lost their streak when Avisail Garcia went down swinging on seven pitches from Cleveland right-hander Zach McAllister in the seventh inning.

Red Sox 11, Tigers 3: What was billed as an epic pitcher’s duel between Chris Sale and Justin Verlander turned into a veritable hit parade. Behind Sale’s three-run, seven-strikeout performance, the Red Sox mounted an epic eight-run rally in the seventh and eighth innings, starting with Mitch Moreland’s two-run double and ending on a sac fly from Sandy Leon.

Verlander, on the other hand, would have preferred a few more swings-and-misses:

Yankees 16, Orioles 3: If it feels like the Yankees have been hitting well lately, well, they have. They’re sporting 98 home runs on the season, five of which came against the Orioles on Saturday. Aaron Judge drilled a 121.1 MPH home run, effectively breaking Statcast, while Didi Gregorius netted his sixth of the season and Starlin Castro and Matt Holliday each tacked on a three-RBI homer. Gary Sanchez added his name to the list in the eighth inning, mashing his ninth home run and tying Justin Smoak for the lowest home run hit in 2017 (h/t MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch).

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Blue Jays 4, Mariners 2: Plenty of former Mariners scored on Saturday night — including Kendrys Morales’ two-RBI home run in the fourth and Justin Smoak’s solo shot in the ninth — but the current Mariners came up short with just two runs off of Blue Jays’ starter Marcus Stroman.

Diamondbacks 3, Brewers 2: The Brewers couldn’t pull off a win on Saturday, but that wasn’t for lack of effort from lefty reliever Luke Hader. Hader made his Major League debut to the tune of two walks and a strikeout in his first inning, preventing the Diamondbacks from building on a one-run lead in the seventh and earning looks for his three-pitch strikeout of Jake Lamb and some familiar-looking locks:

Dodgers 5, Reds 4: The Dodgers scooted within three games of the division lead with a win that was bookended by RBI doubles from Corey Seager. Seager put the Dodgers on the board in the first inning, lining an RBI double off of Reds’ starter Asher Wojciechowski. He reserved his next RBI double for the ninth inning, snapping a 4-4 tie for his first career walk-off hit.

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

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Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.