And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rays 5, Orioles 1: Even Longoria hit a two-run homer to give the Rays a 2-1 lead in the sixth and Steven Souza homered in the seventh to extend things. Alex Cobb allowed one run over seven.

Yankees 9, Reds 5: Luis Severino continues to be the Yankees’ ace, allowing two runs, both unearned, in seven innings of work, striking out nine. Meanwhile Homer Bailey‘s nightmare year continues, as the Yankees beat him up for seven runs — five earned — on ten hits in six innings. Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier homered. The Yankees have won five of six.

Red Sox 4, Mariners 0: Chris Sale continues to be the American League’s best starter, tossing seven shutout innings and striking out 11. Rafael Devers, playing in his second game, notched his first major league hit with a solo home run to straightaway center field. He’s going to try to convince the Red Sox that he deserves to stay up despite their pickup of Eduardo Nunez. I don’t think he will, ultimately, stay up, but he’ll try.

Diamondbacks 10, Braves 3: The Dbacks are one of six teams that scored ten runs yesterday. Helping them to that total was J.D. Martinez who hit two homers and drove in four.  Ketel Marte hit an inside-the-park homer. Daniel Descalso tripled in two runs. Braves starter Aaron Blair had just been called up from Triple-A to make the start, walked five dudes in three innings and, well, it was just that sort of day for Atlanta.

Giants 2, Pirates 1Jeff Samardzija outdueled Trevor Williams in one of the few games yesterday that didn’t feature an offensive outburst. Brandon Belt‘s RBI double in the seventh broke a 1-1 tie that had held since the second.

Nationals 8, Brewers 5: This one looked like a pitchers duel through seven, as the Brewers held a 2-1 lead. Then in the bottom of the eighth the Nats jumped all over the Brewers’ pen with six hits, four of which were doubles. Starter Jimmy Nelson began the inning with a leadoff walk and was lifted. Relievers Jacob Barnes gave up two runs on two hits and Jared Hughes allowed four runs on four and the game was effectively over. Somewhere in the middle of all of that Bryce Harper struck out, slammed his bat to the ground and was ejected, leading to a face-to-face yelling match with the home plate ump. Brewers’ prospect Lewis Brinson played his first game after being recalled from Triple-A. He homered.

Phillies 9, Astros 0: Houston shut out Philly on Tuesday night so yesterday the Phillies returned the favor. Aaron Nola struck out ten in six innings of work and three relievers completed the task. Cameron Rupp homered twice and drove in four. He also flipped his bat a day after criticizing teammate Odubel Herrera for doing stuff like that.

Blue Jays 3, Athletics 2: A’s starter Paul Blackburn and reliever Blake Treinen shut the Jays out for eight innings, bringing in closer Santiago Casilla. He did not live up to his title on this day, walking Josh Donaldson to lead the inning off and then giving up back-to-back homers to Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales, as Toronto gets the walkoff win. Needed only 11 pitches to do it, too. Efficient!

Indians 10, Angels 4: Another game that was close . . . until it wasn’t. Here the Indians separated themselves from the Angels with a seven run eighth inning. It came via five RBI singles and an RBI double. For all of that carnage it was Bradley Zimmer‘s RBI double the previous inning which put the Indians up for good in this one. Earlier he had homered.

Royals 16, Tigers 2: Another game, another late inning battering. This time it was a nine-run seventh inning for the Royals. Eric Hosmer‘s grand slam put a cherry on top of it. Hosmer had five hits in all, driving in six on the day. Ian Kennedy allowed one run over six, so he didn’t need all that run support, but I’m sure he was happy to have it. That’s eight wins in a row for the Royals. Five of the wins in that streak have come against the Tigers. They’re gonna miss those guys.

Cubs 8, White Sox 3: Chicago wins! Jake Arrieta pitched two-hit ball into the seventh inning, allowing two runs, backed by Anthony Rizzo‘s 3-for-4, 4 RBI day. The Cubs are now six games over .500 and have taken a half-game lead on Milwaukee.

Marlins 22, Rangers 10: This was a mess. The Rangers are trying to trade Yu Darvish. I doubt him giving up 10 runs on nine hits in less than four innings will truly harm the market for him — he has a bit of a reputation as a good pitcher already — but it isn’t what they wanted. Just one of those nights, I guess, as his fellow Rangers pitchers allowed 12 more. Marcell Ozuna drove in five. Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto and Giancarlo Stanton all homered. Adrian Beltre got three hits closer to 3,000. He also got ejected by a grumpy-as-hell umpire for moving the on-deck circle.

Cardinals 10, Rockies 5: Another hit parade, with even the Cards’ starting pitcher, Carlos Martinez, getting into the act. His fourth inning RBI single tied it and from there on the Cards didn’t have much trouble. Paul DeJong homered. Randal Grichuk managed to go 4-for-5 without driving in a run. RBIs are dumb.

Dodgers 6, Twins 5: The Twins took a 5-0 lead in the fourth, but you can’t kill this Dodgers team so easily. They chipped away at the lead with Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig homers and an RBI double from Chase Utley. Then, via a Justin Turner walkoff single, notched their fifth straight win and their 36th in their last 42 games. End points can be random, though. Why don’t we just call it their 71st win in their last 102 games? That’s just as impressive. Maybe more so.

Padres 6, Mets 3:  Luis Torrens had three RBI and Manuel Margot homered, but Padres shortstop Allen Cordoba was a hero too, making this sweet play that helped the Padres preserve their lead and the game:

 

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.