Associated Press

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

18 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 6, Yankees 2: Jose Ramirez homered twice and Carlos Santana and Austin Jackson each went deep as well, backing Corey Kluber‘s eight innings of two-run ball. His counterpart, Luis Severino, only gave up four hits but three of them were homers which, well, yeah.

Orioles 7, Mariners 6: Adam Jones hit a home run in the fifth inning gave him 25 on the year. That makes it the seventh consecutive season of at least 25 homers for him, passing Cal Ripken, Jr. for the new Orioles record. He did it against the team that traded him away when he was 22 years-old. Bill Bavasi — the GM who traded him, Chris Tillman, Geroge Sherrill and two prospects for an Erik Bedard who would almost immediately fall off a cliff and who has now been retired for nearly three years — was fired four months later and has never been a GM again. He is now the director of the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, where he manages dozens of scouts who likely could’ve told him that it was a bad move to trade Jones if they had been asked. I wonder if they still mention it to him. I would, but then again I’ve always been kind of a pain to my bosses. Anyway, that’s five wins in a row for the Orioles, who pass the Mariners and pull a game and a half behind the Twins for the final AL wild-card spot.

Nationals 11, Marlins 2: Max Scherzer came back off the disabled list and allowed only one run on five hits and struck out ten over seven innings. Two of those Ks were of Giancarlo Stanton, who went 0-for-3. Guessing Scherzer feels OK.

Phillies 6, Braves 1: Rhys Hoskins didn’t homer — is he OK? Can someone check on him? — but he did go 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Cameron Rupp hit a solo homer and drew a bases-loaded walk. The Phillies beat the Braves again. They have beaten the Braves in 12 of 14 games this year including all eight played in Philly.

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5: Christian Vazquez had four hits, including a two-run home run, Eduardo Nunez added a solo shot and the Red Sox broke their four-game losing streak. But I don’t wanna talk about that. I wanna talk about how Kevin Pillar is just a stupidly, ridiculously good center fielder:

Straight line path to that ball, full spring plus the extension. Just preposterous.

Cubs 6, Pirates 1: Mike Montgomery shut the Pirates out through seven innings, allowing his only run of the game via a solo homer to the first man he faced in the eighth. The Cubs were already up 5-0 by the time that happened, however, thanks in part to Montgomery, who reached on an infield single and later scored. Montgomery has allowed one run over 13 innings in his last two starts. He’ll probably be sent back to the pen when Jon Lester gets healthy, but the Cubs do have an option if they don’t like the look of their rotation heading down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Rays 12, Royals 0: The Royals have now been shut out for four straight games and for 43 straight innings, stretching back to the second inning of their game against the Rockies last Thursday. If Alex Cobb can shut them out for the first five innings tonight Kansas City will break a record currently held by the 1968 Chicago Cubs and the 1906 Philadelphia Athletics. As for this one, it was Austin Pruitt, who shut them out one one hit for six innings, and Matt Andriese who shut them out for three innings on a single hit as well. Offensively, the Rays were led by Logan Morrison who hit a three-run homer and doubled in a fourth. Lucas Duda hit a three-run shot. The Greater Kansas City Area hasn’t seen an annihilation like this since November 20, 1983.

Tigers 4, Rockies 3Nicholas Castellanos hit a two-run triple and an RBI single on his 3-for-4 night and Brad Ausmus deployed six pitchers to win a close game. Miguel Cabrera left the game in the fifth with a bad back. He’s had a bad back all year, really, and I suspect it’s that, as opposed to natural decline, that has led to his disappointing season. Of course bad backs are probably a pretty big part of a lot of players’ natural decline, so perhaps the distinction is without difference.

Angels 3, Athletics 1Andrew Heaney allowed one run on only two hits while striking out ten over six and the Angels mustered just enough offense on a night where the slumping Mike Trout — who is 0-for-his-last-17 — was scratched with a stiff neck.

Giants 3, Padres 0Jeff Samardzija tossed a three-hit shutout, striking out five. All three hits were infield singles. Brandon Crawford hit a solo homer. Joe Panik hit a two-run homer, scoring Crawford. So, like, three dudes beat the Padres.

By the way, the Associated Press game story refers to Samardzija as “the former Notre Dame wide receiver.” Which, yes, is true, but I question whether now, as he is close to completing his tenth big league season, is really necessary anymore. Unless, of course, “odd thing a person did in college” is now a necessary identifier. It’d be kind of cool if it was. That way people could refer to me as “Craig Calcaterra, the former Ohio State University Bookstore employee, who sold Apple Newtons to people at the electronics counter, claiming that they were AMAZING, when they were really overpriced trash . . . ”

Actually, yes, please refer to me that way going forward. It’s probably my greatest professional accomplishment. Imagine: convincing someone to buy an Apple Newton!

Whitewash: Rob Manfred says he doesn’t think sign stealing extends beyond the Astros

Getty Images
25 Comments

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.