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And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Twins 7, Orioles 0: Unwritten Rules Alert!! Apparently it’s not cool to bunt to beat the shift in the ninth inning of a game when the pitcher is working on a shutout. Not a no-hitter, but a shutout. Whatever. Either write all of this down so we know when teams should stop trying to play baseball or else get over yourself, you babies. That aside, it was a wonderful day for the Twins and Jose Berrios, who did, indeed, toss a three-hit shutout. Brian Dozier hit two solo homers. Eduardo Escobar homered and doubled in a run.

Astros 8, Rangers 2: Gerrit Cole shined in his Astros debut, allowing one run over seven innings and striking out eleven. Even Gattis had a couple of RBI doubles and an RBI single on his 3-for-4, three-RBI day. The Astros did that four-man outfield thing against Joey Gallo again. In his first at-bat Gallo homered. Later in the game he hit a single through the vacant left side of the infield. No word if the Twins got all pissy about beating the shift that way too. Houston takes three of four from their in-state rivals to start the year.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 4: Have yourself a day, Justin Smoak. The Jays’ first baseman hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning off of Tommy Kahnle and a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth off of David Robertson, bringing Toronto back from a 4-1 deficit against perhaps the best bullpen in baseball. Best part: they walked Josh Donaldson to load the bases to get to Smoak before that salami.

Mariners 5, Indians 4: My wife and I and a couple of friends were at our favorite Columbus dive bar early yesterday evening. It’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, a sports bar, but this game was on the old dusty TV bolted to the wall in the corner. Our plan had been to take over the jukebox with a bunch of Easter music — stuff like “I Am the Resurrection” by Stone Roses and “Jesus Built my Hot Rod” by Ministry — but the folks at the bar seemed like they’d be mad if someone drowned out the game with ironic crap from some wannabe hipsters. Then Dee Gordon and Mitch Haniger homered in the seventh to turn a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 Mariners lead, after which we felt it was OK to take over the jukebox. Legend has it that this particular bar is haunted which, if you’ve ever been in the basement of this place where the bathrooms are, would not surprise you in the least. I think the ghosts wanted us to play Stone Roses and crap and willed Dan Otero and Tyler Olson to throw meatballs to Gordon and Haniger.

Cardinals 5, Mets 1: Paul DeJong hit two DeBombs, both solo shots. Marcell Ozuna, who had started the season 0-for-his-first-9, had three hits, including an RBI double and an RBI single. Yadi Molina’s homer accounted for the rest of the St. Louis runs. Steven Matz struggled for the Mets. Matt Harvey pitches next. I feel like this season is gonna be “Syndergaard and deGrom and three days of gettin’ bombed” kind of year.

Red Sox 2, Rays 1: The Sox take three of four from the Rays to start the year. The Red Sox starters – Chris SaleDavid PriceRick Porcello and Hector Velazquez — combined to give up two runs over 24 innings of work. Here Velazquez allowed only one run over five and two-thirds.

Marlins 6, Cubs 0: Both starters went six innings and allowed six hits. Dillion Peters of the Marlins shut the Cubs out, though, while Jose Quintana allowed six runs. Miami’s damage was done by a couple of RBI singles and a three-run double by Brian Anderson in the Marlins’ five-run fifth and a wild pitch by Quintana an inning later. It wasn’t necessarily a pretty weekend for the Marlins, but earning an opening series split against the Chicago Cubs ain’t too bad.

Pirates 1, Tigers 0; Pirates 8, Tigers 6: Game 1 consisted of a first inning RBI double by Gregory Polanco and then nothin’ but zeroes the rest of the way from Trevor Williams and Michael Fulmer. The nightcap had a bit more action — Pittsburgh got homers from Josh HarrisonStarling Marte and David Freese — but the same result. Pirates reliever Felipe Rivero — whose ninth inning collapse on Friday afternoon led to a 13-inning game — closed both games here with a save. The first game’s attendance — 14,858 — was the lowest paid gate for Detroit in almost 12 years.

Angels 7, Athletics 4: Shohei Ohtani made his debut as a pitcher and did a pretty spiffy job, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts over six innings. All three runs came on Matt Chapman‘s three-run home run in the bottom of the second. His fastball averaged 98. He touched 100 three times and 99 nine times. I guess he was using spring training for, you know, training.

Nationals 6, Reds 5: Bryce Harper hit a solo homer in the sixth inning. Then, in the ninth, a Cincinnati fan yelled  “overrated!” at Harper, immediately after which he smacked another homer. Imagine what he would’ve done if he wasn’t so overrated. Adam Eaton continued his hot start, going 2-for-5 and driving in two more. Dude is 8-for-13 with five driven in on the early season.

Dodgers 9, Giants 0: Rich Hill blanked San Francisco for six innings and the bullpen took it the rest of the way. Cody Bellinger and Kiké Hernandez each drove in a couple. What a weird series. Four games in which every game was a shutout. The Giants scored only two runs in four games but still got the split. I can’t imagine that’s happened much outside of the Dead Ball Era or back in like in the 1960s.

White Sox vs. Royals — POSTPONED:

Cold black skin
Naked in the rain
Hammer flash in the lightning
They’re hurting her again

Let me put you in the picture
Let me show you what I mean
The messiah is my sister
Ain’t no king, man, she’s my queen

Major League Baseball threatens to walk away from Minor League Baseball entirely

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The war between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball escalated significantly last night, with Minor League Baseball releasing a memo accusing Major League Baseball of “repeatedly and inaccurately” describing the former’s stance in negotiations and Major League Baseball responding by threatening to cut ties with Minor League Baseball entirely.

As you’re no doubt aware, negotiations of the next, 10-year Professional Baseball Agreement, which governs the relationship between the big leagues and the minors — and which is set to expire following the 2020 season — have turned acrimonious. Whereas past negotiations have been quick and uncontroversial, this time Major League Baseball presented Minor League Baseball with a plan to essentially contract 42 minor league baseball teams by eliminating their major league affiliation while demanding that Minor League Baseball undertake far more of the financial burden of player development which is normally the responsibility of the majors.

That plan became public in October when Baseball America reported on it, after which elected officials such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren began weighing in on the side of Minor League Baseball. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball were not happy with all of that and, on Wednesday, Manfred bashed Minor League Baseball for taking the negotiations public and accused Minor League Baseball of intransigence, saying the minors had assumed a “take it or leave it” negotiating stance.

Last night Minor League Baseball bashed back in the form of a four-page public memo countering Manfred’s claims, with point-point-by-point rebuttals of Major League Baseball’s talking points on various matters ranging from stadium facilities, team travel, and player health and welfare. You can read the memo in this Twitter thread from Josh Norris of Baseball America.

Major League Baseball responded with its own public statement last night. But rather than publicly rebut Minor League Baseball’s claims, it threatened to simply drop any agreement with Minor League Baseball and, presumably start its own minor league system bypassing MiLB entirely:

“If the National Association [of Minor League Clubs] has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very significant issues with the current system at the bargaining table. Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”

So, in the space of about 48 hours, Manfred has gone from being angry at the existence of public negotiations to negotiating in public, angrily.

As for Minor League Baseball going public itself, one Minor League Baseball owner’s comments to the Los Angeles Times seems to sum up the thinking pretty well:

“Rob is attempting to decimate the industry, destroy baseball in communities and eliminate thousands of jobs, and he’s upset that the owners of the teams have gone public with that information in an effort to save their teams. That’s rich.”

Things, it seems, are going to get far worse before they get better. If, in fact, they do get better.