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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Reds 10, Padres 3: Cincy was down 3-2 in the seventh when Scooter Gennett smacked a grand slam followed immediately by a Eugenio Suarez solo shot and that pretty much ended that. Zack Cozart and Joey Votto would add bombs in the eighth inning to add insult to injury.

Pirates 7, Tigers 5: Josh Bell hit his 20th homer of the year and drove in three. Gerrit Cole three runs on six hits in eight innings, his longest outing of the year. Detroit has lost five of six.

Nationals 3, Marlins 2: It was tied at two in the eighth when Brian Goodwin hit a long solo shot. Then, in the ninth, with the Marlins threatening, Dee Gordon hit a ball down the left field line that looked like it’d be trouble. Andrew Stevenson said “no problem” and ended the game with this nice catch:

Mets 10, Phillies 0: The Mets smacked four homers and Jacob deGrom tossed shutout ball into the seventh inning before being forced to leave when he was hit on the arm by a comebacker. Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto had three run blasts, Curtis Granderson hit a two-run shot and Wilmer Flores had a solo dong. Thank God there weren’t more homers. I’m running out of home run slang.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0: Marco Estrada tossed seven shutout innings, winning his first game in 13 starts. Ryan Tepera worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna closed the six-hitter out.

Rays 4, Indians 1: Chris Dickerson was 0-for his last 21 when he came to bat with two men on in the eighth. He broke that slump with a three-run homer that gave the Rays the win. They scored four runs here. They had scored only four runs in their previous five games.

Cardinals 8, Royals 6: That’s six wins in a row for St. Louis, this one powered by a Dexter Fowler grand slam in the seventh that broke a 3-3 tie. The Royals clawed back for three more runs in the eighth to make it close but the Cards held on. Fowler on his big blast: “Just looking for something to hit, something to drive.” And people ask me why I don’t cover more games in person.

White Sox 3, Astros 2: The American League’s best team gets swept by the American League’s worst team. Rookie Yoan Moncada homered to tie the game in the ninth and then walked it off with a single in the bottom of the 11th. Astros closer Ken Giles, who gave up that ninth inning homer: “I have to tip my cap to him. He put a good swing on it and drove it the other way.” Again, the level of original insight and comment being shared in these clubhouses after the game is staggering.

Twins 7, Brewers 2: That’s the fifth straight win for the Twins and the fifth straight loss for the Brewers, who have fallen into third place in the NL Central. Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer each had three singles as the Twins put up a three-spot in both the second and third innings. Keon Broxton homered in a losing cause.

Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 6: Yu Darvish struck out ten in five innings of work and enjoyed plenty of (needed) run support. The Dodgers take two of three. They have not lost a series since June 5-7, winning or tying 18 straight. Kiké Hernandez drove in three and Justin Turner drove in two.

Orioles 7, Athletics 2: Trey Mancini hit two homers, both solo shots, and Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo added ones of their own. Tim Beckham had two hits, including a triple. That gives him a hit in all ten games since he was acquired from the Rays. Some thought the former number one pick simply needed a change of scenery. I guess so. Meanwhile, Wade Miley allowed only one unearned run in seven innings, allowing only three hits and striking out seven. The Orioles have won nine of 13.

Angels 6, Mariners 3: Mike Trout hit a three-run double with two outs in the ninth inning of a game the Mariners had just tied with a three-run eighth. Even worse for the Mariners: ace James Paxton had to leave the game in the seventh with a strained pectoral muscle. He’ll have an MRI today, but you have to assume he’s going to miss a start or three, and that’s not going to be great for the M’s, who are in the thick of the Wild Card race.

Tony Clark thinks front offices have too much of an impact on baseball

AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post spoke to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, who said he feels that front offices have too much of an impact on the game of baseball. Clark said, “You hear players saying it’s even hard to recognize how the game is being played. If those on the field see it and experience it, then those who are watching it will notice, too. It’s not to suggest I don’t like home runs or strikeouts or walks. I like all those things. But I also like more of the strategy and the dynamics that have always determined the outcomes in our games.”

Clark continued, “The decisions that are being made are changing the game. When you’re in a climate where the decisions about how the game is being played are being made less by the players who are playing and the coaches and managers who are coaching and managing it, we find ourselves in a climate that seems to be focused in on what everybody’s calling the three true outcomes: the home run, the strikeout and the walk. I would argue that there are two true outcomes: whether you win or you lose. … I’m not saying data is a bad thing. I’m saying it’s morphed our game and its focus quite a bit.”

Clark also discussed tanking, saying, “This isn’t a player problem. It’s reflective, I believe, of very deliberate business decisions. Players as a whole compete on every pitch and every at-bat. Our industry is predicated on competition from the top down. … What it appears that we are seeing in that regard is teams withdrawing from that competition for seasons at a time. It becomes challenging when it’s more than a couple of teams that are going that route, whereby you have a considerable chasm between those that are competing at one level and those that are competing at another.”

The current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021, so the union and the owners will have three more years of talking about these issues before they are concretely addressed. The tanking issue seems like it will almost certainly be addressed.

Clark’s concern over the impact of front offices may not be misplaced, but it’s difficult to envision any kind of rule making a difference. Limit what data teams can access? Centralize the data? The “scienceification” of baseball, if you will, was an inevitability, an evolution. In order to go in a different direction, the game will need to evolve again. Trying to tamp down data usage in baseball is akin to playing whack-a-mole with various ways with which teams will find advantages over other teams.

Major League Baseball could try to cut into the ever-increasing three true outcomes rate by changing certain things about the game without touching the data. Back in 1969, the pitcher’s mound was lowered to encourage more offense. In a similar vein, to encourage more doubles and triples and fewer home runs, stadiums could be adjusted to have the fences back to a certain distance (e.g. at least 340 feet down the lines, 410 in center). The pitcher’s mound could be moved back a few inches, lessening the impact of higher velocity, which has been a big factor in the ever-increasing strikeout rate. There are surely other ideas that smart people can come up with to bring the game towards a more active, enjoyable experience. We still have three years to go so we’ll certainly be seeing some interesting suggestions.