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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 11, White Sox 2: Cleveland wins its 15th straight and it came in a laugher, with the Tribe offense jumping on White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey for seven runs in the first three innings. Corey Kluber didn’t need even half of that run support as he tied up the Chisox for seven innings, allowing only two runs on three hits and striking out 13. The last team to win at least 15 in a row was the 2002-03 Giants, who did it straddling the offseason. The last team to win as many as 15 in a single season was the 2002 A’s, who famously won 20 in a row between August 13 and September 4.

Yankees 9, Orioles 1: The Bombers hit four bombs, with Aaron Judge and Chase Headley hitting two-run homers and Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier adding solo shots. Judge has destroyed the Orioles this year. His line against them: .449/.603/1.082 with nine homers, 18 RBI and 19 walks. That’s just obscene.

Nationals 4, Phillies 3: Four wins in a row for the Nationals, whose magic number is now down to four. Trea Turner hit a two-run single in the sixth. Michael A. Taylor robbed Andres Blanco of a homer with a leaping grab. Everything’s coming up Nationals lately.

Braves 6, Marlins 5: One of the reasons Washington’s magic number is so low so early is because the Marlins are absolutely reeling. Miami has lost 10 of 11, including five straight. This one was a back-breaker, as the lowly Braves mounted a two-run rally in the ninth for a come-from-behind win. Brad Ziegler tried to nail it down, but Matt Adams doubled to lead off the inning, Nick Markakis pinch-ran for him and Ozzie Albies doubled Markakis in. After an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman and a ground out that erased Albies, Kurt Suzuki doubled home Freeman to give the Braves the walkoff win.

Cubs 8, Pirates 2: Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-2 with 2 RBI and 2 walks and 2 runs scored. That makes for a very pretty and satisfying line in the box score. Ian Happ, who is from the Pittsburgh area, went 3-for-5 and scored twice. He also threw a runner out at the plate. Quite an improvement over the night before when he tripped over his own bat running out of the batter’s box.

Mets 7, Reds 2Brandon Nimmo hit two homers on a 3-for-4, three RBI day and Matt Harvey got his first win since May 28 with a five inning, two run, five-hit performance. It wasn’t a great outing — he only struck out one guy — but it’s an improvement over his last start.

Twins 4, Royals 2: Minnesota was down 2-1 after eight but rallied for three in the top of the ninth with a Brian Dozier sac fly and a two-run single from Jorge Polanco off of Kelvin Herrera with two outs. Not the sort of loss the Royals can take if they want to stay relevant in the AL Wild Card race. Kansas City falls to three and a half games back, but with four teams in between them and the the Twins, who remain a game up on the Angels for the second slot.

Padres 3, Cardinals 0: Clayton Richard tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off. Wil Myers‘ two-run homer in the seventh was the big blow for the Padres. St. Louis had a chance in the ninth, rallying to load the bases with two outs, but Brad Hand struck out Dexter Fowler to end the threat.

Rockies 9, Dodgers 1: That’s seven straight losses for the Dodgers and this one hurt more as it came with their ace, Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Colorado was unimpressed, scoring three runs off of him in the first inning courtesy of a Nolan Arenado three-run homer and handing him his first loss since May 6. The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Josh Ravin gave up back-to-back bases-loaded walks in the seventh inning and the fans in Dodger Stadium rained down boos. L.A. is lucky the playoffs start in October and not September.

Rob Manfred walks back comment about 60-game season

Rob Manfred
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Yesterday, on The Dan Patrick Show, commissioner Rob Manfred stuck his foot in his mouth concerning negotiations with the MLB Players Association, saying, “We weren’t going to play more than 60 games.” The comment was taken poorly because MLB owners, represented by Manfred, and the MLBPA were engaged in protracted negotiations in May and June over the 2020 season. Ultimately they couldn’t come to terms, so Manfred had to set the season as prescribed by the March agreement. In saying, “We weren’t going to play more than 60 games,” Manfred appeared to be in violation of the March agreement, which said the league must use the “best efforts to play as many games as possible.” It also seemed to indicate the owners were negotiating in bad faith with the players.

Per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, Manfred walked back his comment on Thursday. Manfred said, “My point was that no matter what happened with the union, the way things unfolded with the second [coronavirus] spike, we would have ended up with only time for 60 games, anyway. As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that the course of the virus was going to dictate how many games we could play.” Manfred added, “As it turned out, the reality was there was only time to play 60 games. If we had started an 82-game season [beginning July 1], we would have had people in Arizona and Florida the time the second spike hit.”

As mentioned yesterday, it is important to view Manfred’s comments through the lens that he represents the owners. The owners wanted a shorter season with the playoffs beginning on time (they also wanted expanded playoffs) because, without fans, they will be making most of their money this year through playoff television revenue. Some thought the owners’ offers to the union represented stall tactics, designed to drag out negotiations as long as possible. Thus, the season begins later, reducing the possible number of regular season games that could be played. In other words, the owners used the virus to their advantage.

Manfred wants the benefit of the doubt with the way fans and the media interpreted his comment, but I’m not so sure he has earned it. This isn’t the first time Manfred has miscommunicated with regard to negotiations. He told the media last month that he had a deal with the union when, in fact, no such deal existed. The MLBPA had to put out a public statement refuting the claim. Before that, Manfred did a complete 180 on the 2020 season, saying on June 10 that there would “100%” be a season. Five days later, he said he was “not confident” there would be a 2020 season. Some have interpreted Manfred’s past comments as a way to galvanize or entice certain owners, who might not have been on the same page about resuming play. There’s a layer beneath the surface to which fans and, to a large extent, the media are not privy.

The likely scenario is that Manfred veered a bit off-script yesterday, realized he gave the union fodder for a grievance, and rushed out to play damage control.