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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 6, Orioles 2: Price was mediocre in his return to the rotation last Saturday after being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. He was magnificent on Thursday, tossing a complete game. The only blemish came on a two-run home run from Manny Machado in the top of the ninth, spoiling Price’s bid for a shutout. He gave up the two runs on five hits with no walks and eight strikeouts on 95 pitches. J.D. Martinez continues to scorch the baseball, homering again — that’s eight May home runs and we’re barely past the midway point in the month. He ended up leaving the game early with a stomach illness. Xander Bogaerts also homered, giving him a three-run home run in each of his last two games. He’s already at six home runs after hitting 10 all of last season.

Dodgers 7, Marlins 0: This win must’ve felt amazing for the last-place Dodgers, who had dropped six games in a row and were on the verge of consecutive series sweeps at the hands of the Reds and Marlins. Kenta Maeda was the stopper, firing eight shutout innings on two hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Kenley Jansen allowed a couple of hits but struck out three to finish out the game. Yasiel Puig homered off of reliever Junichi Tazawa, who was designated for assignment after the game. Justin Turner went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and five RBI.

Pirates 5, Padres 4: Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva got off to a blazing hot start, but then the calendar flipped to May and he stopped hitting. He entered Thursday’s action batting .091 in 46 plate appearances this month. He didn’t start Thursday, but pinch-hit and stayed in the game, going 0-for-2 on the night. He committed a costly error in the bottom of the seventh, allowing the Pirates to score the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run. Villanueva is ready for June already.

Athletics 10, Blue Jays 5: The A’s put on an offensive clinic, pounding out 10 runs on 14 hits, three of which were homers. Khris Davis, Matt Olson, and Matt Chapman all went yard. Get used to hearing that sentence. Aaron Sanchez lasted only four innings, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks with eight strikeouts.

Phillies 6, Cardinals 2: Another win for the Phillies. That’s seven wins in their last eight ballgames. The Cubs/Braves game was postponed, so the Phils are only a half-game out of first place in the NL East. Vince Velasquez was outstanding, pitching 6 1/3 scoreless frames, yielding five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Luke Weaver was nearly as good, giving up a lone run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts in seven innings. The bullpen was the Cardinals’ downfall, serving up five runs in the game’s final two innings. Carlos Santana and Pedro Florimon both homered. Meanwhile, Odubel Herrera extended his on-base streak to 43 consecutive games.

White Sox 4, Rangers 2: Doug Fister was masterful for the Rangers; Jose Leclerc was not. Fister tossed seven shutout innings on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Leclerk forked over four unearned runs on a hit and three walks while recording only two outs in the eighth. The unearned runs scored as a result of Leclerc’s own throwing error. Yikes. James Shields pitched a good ballgame, yielding a lone run on three hits and three walks with eight punch-outs in 7 1/3 innings.

Rays 7, Angels 1: The Angels’ bullpen imploded, ruining what was otherwise a solid night for starter Tyler Skaggs. He gave up one run, but Jim Johnson and Felix Pena came in after him and surrendered six more. C.J. Cron stayed hot, homering for the Rays. Johnny Field and Denard Span also went deep. Shohei Ohtani went deep in the ninth, salvaging the Angels from getting shut out. He has a .977 OPS on the year. And a 3.58 ERA.

Tigers 3, Mariners 2: The Tigers rallied late, plating a pair of runs in the top of the eighth on a Jose Iglesias single, taking a 3-2 lead. On the Mariners’ side, Guillermo Heredia was the only Mariner to rack up multiple hits, adding three to his ledger. Tigers starter Matt Boyd gave up just two runs in six innings and now carries a 3.19 ERA on the year.

Rockies 5, Giants 3 (12 innings): Carlos Gonzalez broke through with a two-run single in the top of the 12th to seal the deal. Brandon Crawford and manager Bruce Bochy were ejected in the bottom half of the 12th arguing an egregious called strike three. The umpires and the Giants haven’t gotten along much lately. Brandon Belt hit his 10th homer in the contest.

Cubs @ Braves: Postponed due to inclement weather. It has been rescheduled for Thursday, August 30 at 7:35 PM ET.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.