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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 5, Dodgers 3Tyler Flowers hit a tiebreaking, pinch-hit, two-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Braves the victory.  The Dodgers have lost only three games since the All-Star break. All three have come against the Braves, strangely enough. L.A. lead this one 3-2 in the fifth but still lost. That’s not a shocking thing based on the score alone — a lot of teams lost games when they had one-run leads at one point — but it is the first time in 54 games that the Dodgers lost a game that, at one point or another, they had once led. That was an all-time record.

Rangers 5, Mariners 1: For the second straight night Joey Gallo hit a crazy-long homer to center in Arlington. Gallo’s take on these monster dongs: “I just feel like I’m getting a pitch to hit and not missing it.” Thanks for the insight, Joey. Delino DeShields and Elvis Andrus also homered. Presumably they too were just looking for a pitch to hit. Seriously, though, just once would I like to hear a baseball player say “Man, I knocked the living crap outta that ball! Just DESTROYED that bad boy! New it as soon as I swung too. Hot damn!”

Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 0: Six shutout innings from Dbacks starter Zack Godley. I’d like him to throw a no-hitter one day so I can use the headline “More like Zack GodMODE, amirite?” Jake Lamb drove in all three of the Snakes’ runs.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 4: Molina hit two solo home runs. He also doubled. After the game, Kolten Wong said this about Molina:

“He is our captain, he is our leader, he is the St. Louis Cardinals. We are going to hop on his back whenever he is going. He is our man. When he goes, we go.”

It’s hard, based on the couple of Instagram incidents of the past week in which Molina has undercut Mike Matheny, to not hear stuff like that as players taking a side.

Twins 5, Padres 2: Ervin Santana tossed a complete game — his fifth on the year — while allowing two runs on four hits and striking out nine. His five complete games lead all of baseball. Right now two guys, Max Scherzer and Ivan Nova, are tied for the NL lead with two. Never in baseball history has a league leader in CGs had fewer than four. On five occasions in baseball history has a league leader in complete games had exactly four: NL and AL 2015; AL 2013; NL 2009 and NL 2007. Which means that, yeah, the NL leader this year may have the lowest number complete games for a league leader in baseball history.

Tigers 2, Yankees 0: Jordan Zimmermann tosses seven shutout innings and — after a three hour rain delay — Bruce Rondon and Shane Greene handle the final two innings to complete the job. I guess the Tigers should’ve just traded away their best reliever in April if they wanted to stabilize their bullpen. Justin Upton and James McCann drove in the Tigers runs.

Orioles 6, Royals 0: Jeremy Hellickson shuts the Royals out for seven and Mychal Givens and Darren O'Day handle the rest of it. I wonder if the Tigers pitching staff plans to sue the Orioles’ pitching staff for copyright infringement over all of this. Tim Beckham doubled in one run and tripled in another. Nice day for the O’s new pickups.

Reds 5, Pirates 2: A Jesse Winker solo homer broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh and an Adam Duvall two-run homer in the ninth gave the Redlegs some insurance. Winker’s homer came off of Joaquin Benoit. Not a nice day for the Pirates’ new pickup. Not a nice couple weeks or so for the Pirates as a team, really. They had a six-game winning streak that got some people raising their eyebrows a while back and since then they’ve lost eight of ten.

Marlins 7, Nationals 0: Vance Worley tossed seven shutout innings allowing only two hits and Christian Yelich and Derek Dietrich hit homers. Yelich drove in three in all. Giancarlo Stanton ended the game with a home run robbery.

Blue Jays 5, White Sox 1: J.A. Happ struck out ten dudes in seven innings. Steve Pearce and Josh Donaldson hit homers and Justin Smoak reached base three times. The Jays have won three of four. The Blue Jays now get their first day off since the All-Star break. They have to spend it in Houston, but I guess it’ll still be OK.

 

 

Rays 3, Astros 0: Austin Pruitt and three relievers combined to shut out the Astros. It’s the second time in a week that the Astros — who lead all of baseball in scoring — have been shut out in a week. Everyone goes through stretches like this. Houston would obviously rather have it happen in early August with a 15-game division lead than in early October in a best-of-five series.

Mets 10, Rockies 5: The Rockies had a 5-0 lead heading into the fourth. Then they watched the Mets plate ten runs over the next three innings while they themselves would not score again. Curtis Granderson hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the sixth, Jay Bruce homered and Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits.

Angels 7, Phillies 0: All seven Angels runs came in the third inning with five of them coming via three longballs. Mike Trout and C.J. Cron hit two-run shots and Kaleb Cowart hit a solo shot. JC Ramirez tossed eight shutout innings, scattering six hits.

Athletics 6, Giants 1Daniel Gossett allowed one run on three hits over seven innings and got plenty of offense to back him. Ryon Healy homered Jed Lowrie doubled twice and scored, Matt Chapman got two hits and an RBI and Chad Pinder singled twice

Indians vs. Red Sox — POSTPONED: No lyrics today, but there’s a good reason for it:

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.