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:

 

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.