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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Pirates 7, Rockies 2: Jameson Taillon hadn’t pitched since May 3 due to surgery for testicular cancer he underwent on May 8. A month and three days later he came back to the mound and held one of the best offenses in baseball scoreless over five innings. It was nice that he was able to do this against the Rockies too, as Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis underwent the same testicular cancer surgery six months earlier and has talked to Taillon during his rehab. Bettis was in the Rockies’ dugout for the game, no doubt unhappy at the fact that his team lost, but maybe less unhappy than he might’ve been in just about any other situation.

Braves 11, Nationals 10: The Braves and Nats traded punches early, but the Nats settled in with a three-run lead after a four-run fourth inning. Atlanta scored two in the eighth to draw close and then, in the ninth, Tyler Flowers hit a go-ahead three-run home run off of Matt Albers for what proved to be the winning runs. Matt Adams had two dongs for Atlanta. The Nats are on a four-game losing streak and have blown a couple of saves in that span. They’re gonna run away with the East but they’re gonna need to do something with that pen eventually.

Mariners 14, Twins 3: Quite the day for comebacks, eh? Here the M’s didn’t have to come back like the Braves did and Mitch Haniger certainly didn’t have to come back from an ailment anywhere near as serious as Taillon did, but he was pretty impressive all the same. On the disabled list since late April with an oblique injury, Haniger, in his second game back, went 4-for-6 and scored four runs. Nelson Cruz drove in four. Danny Valencia and Mike Zunino hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning to rub it in.

Red Sox 6, Phillies 5: Another comeback. Boston was down 4-0 after the top of the first inning but they clawed back, tying it on a Hanley Ramirez homer in the bottom of the eighth and winning it when Dustin Pedroia singled home Deven Marrero in the 11th. Mookie Betts had four hits — three of which were doubles — and Andrew Benintendi homered. Boston has won three of four.

Mets 6, Cubs 1: Jacob deGrom tossed a complete game, allowing only one run on five hits. Asdrubal Cabrera hit two homers and Jay Bruce hit a two-run shot of his own. That’s four wins in a row for the Mets. That’s the fifth loss in six games for the Cubs.

White Sox 10, Orioles 7: The O’s left the Bronx, but they still gave up double digit runs. They’ve given up 40 runs in their last three games, in fact, which suggests to me that, just maybe, they have some pitching problems. Kevan Smith hit his first career homer and drove in three for the Chisox. Avisail Garcia drove in three as well.

Rangers 6, Astros 1: Yu Darvish allowed one run on one hit in seven innings. Nomar Mazara hit a three-run homer, but that came late, after the Rangers had the lead. They got the lead when Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo hit back-to-back triples in the third inning.

Yankees 5, Angels 3: Masahiro Tanaka got bumped a day for some extra rest. Turned out to work, as the recently struggling Yankees ace allowed only one earned run — three overall — in six and two-thirds innings of work.

Also, whoever runs the Angels Twitter account needs to learn patience. During the game, they tweeted this:

Then, in the eighth inning, Judge hit a two-run homer that broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Yankees the game. So, yeah, the shelf life on that burn was pretty short.

Padres 9, Reds 3: The Padres battered Bronson Arroyo for nine runs on thirteen hits over four and two-thirds, including a six run second inning. Franchy Cordero hit his first big league home run and drove in two. Austin Hedges was 3-for-4 and drove in three. Today’s post started with some interesting and inspiring comebacks. My gut tells me that we shouldn’t get too attached to the Bronson Arroyo comeback story, however, as I suspect it won’t be going on much longer.

Whitewash: Rob Manfred says he doesn’t think sign stealing extends beyond the Astros

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Rob Manfred said today that he believes the sign-stealing scandal which has taken over the news in the past week does not extend beyond the Houston Astros. His exact words, via Jeff Passan of ESPN:

“Right now, we are focused on the information that we have with respect to the Astros. I’m not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We’ll deal with that if it happens, but I’m not going to speculate about that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.”

This is simply incredible. As in literally not credible.

It’s not credible because, just last week, in the original story in The Athletic, it was reported that the Astros system was set up by two players, one of whom was “a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources . . . they were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good. They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.”

The very next day Passan reported that Major League Baseball would not limit its focus to the Astros. Rather, the league’s probe was also include members of the 2019 Astros and would extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentioned the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Add into this the Red Sox’ pre-Cora sign-stealing with Apple Watches and widespread, informed speculation on the part of players and people around the game that many teams do this sort of thing, and one can’t reasonably suggest that only the Houston Astros are doing this.

Which, as I noted at the time, made perfect sense. These schemes cannot, logically, operate in isolation because players and coaches change teams constantly. In light of this, players have to know that their sign-stealing would be found out by other teams eventually. They continue to do it, however, because they know other teams do it too. As is the case with pitchers using pine tar or what have you, they don’t rat out the other team so they, themselves, will not be ratted out. It’s a mutually-assured destruction that only exists and only works if, in fact, other teams are also stealing signs.

So why is Major League Baseball content to only hang the Astros here? I can think of two reasons.

One is practical. They had the Astros fall in their lap via former Astro Mike Fiers — obviously not himself concerned with his current team being busted for whatever reason — going on the record with his accusation. That’s not likely to repeat itself across baseball and thus it’d be quite difficult for Major League Baseball to easily conduct a wide investigation. Who is going to talk? How can baseball make them talk? It’d be a pretty big undertaking.

But there’s also the optics. Major League Baseball has had a week to think about the report of the Astros sign-stealing and, I suspect, they’ve realized, like everyone else has realized, that this is a major scandal in the making. Do they really want to spend the entire offseason — and longer, I suspect, if they want a thorough investigation — digging up unflattering news about cheating in the sport? Do they really want to be in the bad news creation business? I doubt they do, so they decided to fence off the Astros, hit them hard with penalties, declare victory and move on.

Which is to say, it’s a whitewash.

It’s something the league has tried to do before. They did it with steroids and it didn’t work particularly well.

In 1998 Mark McGwire, that game’s biggest star at the time, was found to have the PED androstenedione in his locker. It was a big freakin’ deal. Except . . . nothing happened. Major League Baseball planned to “study” the drug but most of the fallout was visited upon the reporter who made it public. It was accompanied by some shameful conduct by both Major League Baseball and the baseball press corps who eagerly went after the messenger rather than cover the story properly.

Four years later Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco went public with their PED use and said drug use was widespread. MLB’s response was slow and, again, sought to isolated the known offenders, singling out Caminiti as a troubled figure — which he was — and Canseco as a kook — which he kind of is — but doing them and the story a disservice all the same.

The league eventually created a rather toothless testing and penalty regime. Congress and outside investigative reporters filled the void created by the league’s inaction, calling hearings and publishing damning stories about how wide PED use was in the game. Eventually Bud Selig commissioned the Mitchell Report. Some ten years after the McGwire incident baseball had at least the beginnings of a sane approach to PEDs and a more effective testing plan, but it was pulled to it kicking and screaming, mostly because doing anything about it was too hard and not very appetizing from a business and P.R. perspective.

And so here we are again. Baseball has a major scandal on its hands. After some initially promising words about how serious it planned to take it, the league seems content to cordon off the known crime scene and refuses to canvass the neighborhood. Sure, if someone gratuitously hands them evidence they’ll look into it, but it sure sounds like Rob Manfred plans to react rather than act here.

That should work. At least until the next time evidence of cheating comes up and they have to start this all over again.