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And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 4, Nationals 2Charlie Culberson came off the bench and hit a walkoff solo home run against the Mets a week ago. Six days later he came off the bench and hit another walkoff home run, this time against the Nationals. Gonna start calling him Vinnie Johnson. Wait, you don’t know who Vinnie Johnson is? For shame. Educate yourself. Like, really. Anyway: the The Braves took three of four from Washington and extended their lead to 1.5 games over the Nationals in the East.  

Cardinals 5, Pirates 0: Michael Wacha took a no-hitter into the ninth, finishing with eight shutout innings and striking out eight, leaving after giving up that hit. Back in 2013, then-rookie Michael Wacha was one out away from a no-hitter against the Nats, so I guess he knows the feeling. A first inning grand slam from Marcel Ozuna held up.

Blue Jays 8, Tigers 4: Randal Grichuk and Justin Smoak both homered and both drove in three while Aaron Sanchez allowed one over six to help the Jays end a five-game losing streak. It also ends a four-game winning streak for the Tigers, with all of those wins coming since a Canada goose crashed into the scoreboard trying to escape the ballpark on Wednesday. The Tigers have kept a goose decoy in the dugout since then. Now that they have lost, perhaps they can accept the unquestionable truth of the matter: Canada geese are annoying pests who crap all over sidewalks and we desperately need coyote and bobcat populations to rebound in order to bring balance back to the upper Midwest’s ecosystem. If that means more coyotes and bobcats in your subdivision, welp, that’s the circle of life, my friends. Keep an eye on your toddlers.

Cubs 2, Mets 0: Jon Lester shut the Mets out for seven and the pen handled the final two. One Cubs run scored when Javier Baez stole home. It wasn’t a straight steal — he broke home when Steven Matz lollygagged a throw to first base to check another runner — but it was still a go-go play:

The Cubs swept the Mets in the four-game series and are winners of seven of eight. Chicago is now two back of Milwaukee in the Central because . . .

White Sox 6, Brewers 1: . . . the Brewers dropped two of three to the Chisox of all teams. Dylan Covey and five relievers teamed up to hold the Brew Crew to one run, and it wasn’t even earned. Adam Engel and Daniel Palka each drove in couple and hit back-to-back homers in the sixth. I’m sure you know who they are and that I don’t have to talk about them that much. At least I hope so. It’s too early in the morning for me to look them up myself. Frankly, I have no idea. Viva rebuilds. It was the first series loss for the Brewers in a month.

Diamondbacks 6, Marlins 1: Matt Koch shut the Marlins out for seven innings to help the Snakes sweep the Fish in the three-game set, outscoring them 21-4 in the series. David Peralta homered for the third straight game. The Diamondbacks, who had lost 15 of its 17, have won five of six. Those six games came against the Reds and Marlins, the two worst teams in the National League, but they all count, man. Go back and look at all the teams that won the World Series. They beat up on crappy teams too. Though, to be fair, they didn’t lose 15 of 17 all that often. So, no, I’m not sure what my point is, really.

Twins 7, Indians 5Eddie Rosario dominated this one, hitting three dingers, including  a walkoff two-run home run, for his third and fourth RBI of the day. Rosario is hitting .317/.352/.573 with 13 home runs, 40 RBI, and 36 runs scored on the year. This was his second career three-run game. No other Twins batter — including Killebrew, Puckett, Hrbek, Gaetti, Brunanski, Morneau or Mauer has ever done it. Not too shabby.

Athletics 5, Royals 1: A four-run eighth inning — with three of those runs coming on a Matt Olson three-run homer — broke a 1-1 tie and have Oakland the W. Olson, who has homered in each of his last four games, went 5-for-11 with three home runs, eight RBI and scored five times in the series. When that guy hits, he really friggin’ hits.

Dodgers 10, Rockies 7: The Rockies jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first and had a 6-1 lead after two, but blew it, falling behind by one when Trevor Story threw a ball away and let two runs score in the sixth. Colorado fought back to tie it back up at seven before a three-run Dodger ninth inning, capped by a Yasmani Grandal two-run homer, gave the Dodgers the win. L.A. swept the formerly first place Rockies at Coors Field to pull even with the Giants in third place, a game behind the second place Rockies and 2.5 behind the now-first place Diamondbacks. Given how everything in the world has gone wrong for the Dodgers this year, the fact that they’re this close has to feel pretty encouraging for them and pretty discouraging for the clubs who were all picked to finish far behind them this year.

Giants 6, Phillies 1: Dereck Rodriguez picked up his first big league win by allowing one run over six and striking out six against the Phillies. The only run he gave up was a homer to his counterpart, Jake Arrieta. It was all that went well for Arrieta on the day, however. He allowed five runs on eight hits, including an opposite-field three-run home run to Andrew McCutchen in the sixth giving the Giants’ a 5-1 lead. It sounded like he went to bed rather cranky last night, too, going off on the Phillies for shifting too much and calling for “accountability . . .top to bottom.” Well then.

Angels 3, Rangers 1: Tyler Skaggs was not efficient and was not sharp, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. He tossed six scoreless frames, Justin Upton homered and Luis Valbuena doubled in a couple of runs as the Angels won despite getting only four hits. Again: lucky > good.

Mariners 2, Rays 1: Blake Snell tossed six shutout innings and struck out 12 — at one point striking out seven in a row — but he didn’t get run support or, as it was, bullpen support. Felix Hernandez, meanwhile, allowed one run over eight and took the win thanks to a two-run eighth, thanks to a Denard Span RBI single and Dee Gordon knocked in one with an infield single. The Mariners sweep the three-game series.

Padres 6, Reds 3: Hunter Renfroe‘s pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the fifth broke things open and a couple insurance runs provided, uh, insurance for the Padres. San Diego has won five of seven. Like the Dbacks, they’ve done it against the Marlins and the Reds. It’s almost like there’s a pattern here or something.

Red Sox 9, Astros 3: Charlie Morton has been pretty tough all year, but the Red Sox weren’t impressed, knocking him around for six runs on nine hits in five and a third. Mitch Moreland and Andrew Benintendi’s homers off of him gave the Sox a 3-1 lead and then a two-run triple from Brock Holt and Blake Swihart‘s RBI single put the game out of reach. Holt would knock in another run later and Sam Travis would knock in a couple of gratuitous runs late as Boston splits the four-game set with Houston.

Yankees vs. Orioles — POSTPONED:

Maybe I don’t really wanna know
How your garden grows cos I just want to fly
Lately, did you ever feel the pain?
In the morning rain as it soaks you to the bone
Maybe I just want to fly I want to live I don’t want to die
Maybe I just want to breathe maybe I just don’t believe
Maybe you’re the same as me we see things they’ll never see you and I
were gonna live forever

The Astros continue to refuse to take responsibility for the Taubman Affair

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I’m calling it the “Taubman Affair” because writing “the incident in which a top front office executive — Astros Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman — taunted a reporter for her past opposition to the team acquiring a domestic abuser, after which the team lied, aggressively about it, accusing another reporter of fabricating a story, then admitted that they lied but made no apology for smearing the reporter” is too unwieldy for a headline.

If you need catching up on it, though, you can read this, this or this.

The latest on it all: yesterday, after walking back their angry denial that the incident ever occurred and admitting that, yes, Taubman did in fact gleefully and profanely target a reporter for taunting, the team basically went silent and let Game 1 unfold.

Today General Manager Jeff Luhnow went on a team-friendly radio station (i.e. the station that broadcasts Astros games). In the entire segment he was asked only one question about it: “Your thoughts on the SI article, Jeff.” Luhnow said that he would withhold comment, but apologized to “everybody involved,” including the fans and the players, saying “this situation should have never happened.” You can listen to the entire segment here.

He did not, however, make any specific mention of what “this situation” was. Nor did he acknowledge that, actually, it’s at least two “situations:” (1) the initial behavior of Taubman; and (2) Monday night’s team-sanctioned attack of Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, who reported it. Indeed, at no time in the team’s now multiple comments has anyone acknowledged that, as an organization, the Houston Astros’s first impulse in all of this was to attempt to bully and discredit a reporter for what has now been established as a truthful report to which the Astros have admitted. And they certainly have not voiced any specific regret or offered any form of accountability for it.

Major League Baseball is apparently investigating Taubman’s conduct. But it is not, presumably, investigating the Astros’ disingenuous smear of Apstein. A smear that the Astros likely undertook because they figured they could intimidate Apstein and, what may even be worse, because they assumed that the rest of the press — many of whom were witnesses to Taubman’s act — would go along or remain silent. If they did not think that, of course, releasing the statement they did would’ve been nonsensical. It speaks of an organization that believes it can either bully or manipulate the media into doing its bidding or covering for the teams’ transgressions. That part of this has gone wholly uncommented on by the Astros and apparently will for the foreseeable future. No matter how this shakes out for Taubman, if the Astros do not talk about how and why they decided to baselessly attack Apstein on Monday night, nothing they ever say should be trusted again.

More broadly, everything the Astros are doing now is the same as when they traded for Roberto Osuna in the first place.

In 2018 they wanted to do an unpopular thing — arbitrage a player’s domestic violence suspension into the acquisition of cheap relief help — while wanting to appear as though they were good actors who had a “zero tolerance for domestic violence” policy. To solve that problem they shoveled a lot of malarkey about how “zero tolerance” actually includes a fair amount of tolerance and hoped that everyone would go along. When not everyone did — when fans brought signs of protest to the ballpark or expressed their displeasure with Osuna’s presence on the roster — they confiscated them then hoped it’d all blow over and, eventually, via Taubman’s rant on Saturday night, lashed out at their critics.

Here, again, they want to do something unpopular: retain a boorish and insensitive executive in Taubman without him or the team suffering any consequences for it, be they actual consequences or mere P.R. fallout. Again, it’s kind of hard to pull that off, so to do so they falsely accused a reporter of lying and then circled the wagons when they caught heat for it.

I have no idea how long they plan to keep this up. Maybe they are calculating that people will forget and that forgetting is the same as forgiveness. Maybe they simply don’t care. All I do know is that folks will be teaching the Astros’ response to all of this as a counterexample in crisis management courses for years.