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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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

Cubs 9, Pirates 5: Of all the wacky twists and turns encapsulating the Cubs’ 33rd win of the season, none was stranger than this:

The reason for the impromptu uniform redesign? According to MLB.com’s Chris Landers and Carrie Muskat, pitchers cannot wear long white sleeves, as it obscures the baseball from the batter’s view. Luckily, the rudimentary tailoring skills of one Cubs’ trainer saved the day.

Cardinals 11, Orioles 2: The Cardinals snapped their three-game losing streak in spectacular fashion on Friday, distributing a season-best five home runs to rout the fourth-place Orioles. From Matt Carpenter’s blast in the sixth inning through Trey Mancini’s homer in the ninth, the only way either team scored was via the long ball.

Diamondbacks 5, Phillies 4: The Diamondbacks furthered their five-win streak on Friday, topping the Phillies to bring themselves within one game of the division lead. Gregor Blanco powered the D-backs’ comeback in the seventh inning, postmarking a 2-2 curveball from Aaron Nola to the right field stands, while Jake Lamb supplied the winning run on a sac fly.

White Sox 11, Blue Jays 4: The White Sox continued dominating their AL East rivals with an 11-run showing against the Blue Jays, backed by seven solid innings from Jose Quintana and a five-run display from Melky Cabrera.

Jose Quintana pitched into the seventh inning for the first time since May 19, issuing two runs on five hits and two walks and whiffing five of 25 batters. The offense carried the rest of the game, cushioning Quintana’s efforts with Jose Abreu’s three-RBI performance, Melky’s five-RBI performance and a handful of extra runs from Todd Frazier, Tim Anderson and Alex Hanson.

Tigers 13, Rays 4: After getting swept in a two-game series against the Diamondbacks earlier this week, the Tigers are turning things around. They cemented back-to-back wins against the Rays with a 13-run explosion on Friday, earning 10 of their 13 runs on two consecutive five-run innings against the Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez and Austin Pruitt. Highlighted in the win? A smattering of stellar defensive plays, including a slick throw from shortstop Jose Iglesias:

Nationals 7, Mets 2: Backing Max Scherzer‘s sterling start: Three home runs, one each from Matt Wieters, Michael Taylor and Anthony Rendon. Wieters put the Nats on the board in the third inning with a first-pitch shot off of Steven Matz:

Wieters’ leadoff solo shot was immediately followed by a long ball from Michael Taylor, his eighth of the season. Rendon rounded out the bunch, delivering a 379-foot tater to right field to cement a four-run lead in the sixth.

The Mets staged a late-game rally with solo homers from Jose Reyes and Jay Bruce in the eighth and ninth innings, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Nats, who put up another three runs in the ninth to take the game, 7-2.

Dodgers 3, Reds 1: Scooter Gennett didn’t get the opportunity to help the Reds during their 3-1 loss on Friday, taking a much-needed day off after his historic 10-RBI performance on Tuesday. The team still found a way to include him, however, hosting a pregame ceremony to honor Gennett for his four-homer performance and gifting him with a red scooter.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, continued their march toward first place with a dominant eight innings from Alex Wood, who held the Reds to just four hits and one run in his seventh win of the year.

Marlins 5, Braves 0: Perhaps The Freeze’s untimely loss was a harbinger of defeat for the Braves. It’s equally as likely that the Braves’ offense had something to do with it, collecting just four hits off of Dan Straily while the Marlins coasted to their 5-0 finish — their first team shutout since May 7.

Rangers 10, Mariners 4: Tyson Ross had been waiting for this moment since last April. The Rangers’ right-hander took the mound on Friday after battling chronic shoulder issues for the last year, and by all appearances seemed to have returned to the 3.26 ERA, 4.4 fWAR hurler the Padres saw in 2015. He limited the Mariners to just two runs in 5 2/3 innings, issuing three walks and striking out five batters in his first win of the season.

The Mariners, on the other hand, took a tough loss in what looked like James Paxton‘s worst start of the year. Paxton was forced out after 3 2/3 innings, giving up a season-high seven runs and striking out just four of 21 batters.

Brewers 6, Padres 5 (10 innings): Eric Thames is still enjoying an unprecedented power surge this season, with 19 home runs to his name and an equally impressive 1.012 OPS through his first 62 games. He smacked a walk-off home run during the 10th inning of the Brewers’ win, reaching a team-highest launch angle of 41 degrees as the ball skimmed the top of the wall and bounced into the left field bullpen.

Thames is no stranger to the hype that has surrounded his stunning return to Major League Baseball, but admitted some confusion over the Brewers’ rowdy postgame celebrations, which have improved on the shaving cream pies and Gatorade showers he was subject to during his first major league run.

I didn’t know about the jersey rip-off and the undershirt rip-off,” Thames told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “It’s like, my nipple is hanging out, I’ve got all these drinks in my eyes. My eyes are still burning from it, but obviously it’s great the guys are having fun.

Red Sox 2, Astros 1: Mookie Betts‘ solo home run proved the deciding factor in Friday’s series opener, but the Red Sox nearly handed their one-run lead back to the Astros after a peculiar play in the eighth inning. With one out and runners on first and second base, the Astros’ Evan Gattis swung at a changeup from Matt Barnes. Christian Vasquez gloved the ball behind the plate and fired it to third, catching the tip of Gattis’ bat on its way out. Jose Altuve stole third base while Josh Rutledge stepped off the bag to field a ball that never arrived — it instead ricocheted toward first base, where it was scooped by Barnes.

The rest of the game was anticlimactic by comparison: Gattis hit into a rally-killing double play on the next pitch and Craig Kimbrel polished off the win with a scoreless ninth for his 19th save of the year.

Indians 8, Twins 1: The Indians are fast closing in on first place in the AL Central, thanks in part to a strong showing from Carlos Carrasco this weekend. The right-hander tossed 6 1/3 innings of four-hit ball, keeping the Twins to one run and striking out seven of 25 batters. Minnesota left-hander Nik Turley, on the other hand, has yet to win a game this season. He got shelled in 4 2/3 innings, taking his first loss after giving up eight runs on nine hits and four walks.

Rockies 10, Giants 8: Pitchers’ home runs should count more than regular home runs, right? Given their relative rarity, it only seems fair.

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t have done much good for the Giants on Friday. Jeff Samardzija‘s monster home run in the fifth inning — 446 feet, a Statcast record for power-hitting pitchers — gave the Giants a temporary 4-1 lead, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Rockies’ five-run surge in the bottom of the fifth.

Athletics 7, Yankees 6: Matt Chapman looked right at home during his first major league game. The rookie third baseman pounced on a curveball from Yankees’ right-hander Jonathan Holder, lashing it to left field to extend the A’s lead to 7-6 in the eighth inning.

That ended up being the difference maker, giving the A’s just the edge they needed to… well, maintain their last-place standing in the AL West.

Royals 3, Angels 1: Despite the flurry of no-hitters over the last five years (18, to be exact), no MLB pitcher has managed to toss a perfect game since Felix Hernandez‘s gem for the Mariners in 2012. Ian Kennedy gave it his best shot on Friday night, coming 10 outs shy of his first career perfecto before Cliff Pennington ripped a 3-1 homer in the sixth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, Kennedy didn’t appear to bear any ill will towards Pennington for breaking up his bid:

I know Cliff pretty well,” Kennedy said, smiling. “I mean, he’s a terrible friend. I told him he’s a terrible friend and I was deleting his phone number. Nah, if I was going to give it up, at least it was to a friend.

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.