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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 2, Phillies 1: David Price and Aaron Nola battled admirably for eight innings, each allowing a run, but this one would head to extras. In the 13th Eduardo Nunez led off with a single, stole second and then Blake Swihart ended things by hitting a walkoff ground rule double to drive him in. Then, after the game, the Red Sox acquired a second baseman who will probably get more playing time than Nunez going forward. You’re welcome.

Braves 5, Marlins 3: Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña each went deep and the Braves bullpen tossed four scoreless innings as Atlanta cut Philly’s lead in the East to a half game.

Twins 5, Indians 4: Jose Ramirez hit two home runs for Cleveland, but the game was tied in the ninth when Mitch Garver drove in the winning run with a walkoff double. The Indians have somehow dropped seven of ten against Minnesota this year.

Cardinals 5, Rockies 4: The third walkoff win of the night, this one courtesy of a Marcell Ozuna 10th inning homer. It was Ozuna’s third straight game with a homer. The Rockies had taken an early 4-0 lead in this one thanks to a Nolan Arenado grand slam, but the Cardinals came back to tie it thanks to a Jedd Gyorko homer, Harrison Bader walking with the based loaded and a Matt Carpenter RBI single, setting the stage for Ozuna.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 5Shin-Soo Choo homered twice and had four RBI in a game that was delayed 21 minues by a power outage due to a storm that rumbled through downtown Phoenix.  Rougned Odor hit a solo homer that gave the Rangers the lead in the seventh. The Rangers have won four in a row.

Brewers 5, Dodgers 2: Eric Thames‘ three-run homer in the third gave the Brewers an early margin that proved to be sufficient as five Milwaukee pitchers combined to tame the Dodgers. Manny Machado made his debut in Los Angeles and hit a homer, but it was too little, too late for the Dodgers. There was a power outage delay in this one too —  it lasted for 23 minutes between the first and second innings — but it was because of power grid issues, not a storm, as it never rains in southern California.

Athletics 10, Blue Jays 1: Edwin Jackson tossed five shutout innings to notch his 100th career win and the A’s pounded the Jays thanks in part to homers from Mark Canha and Stephen Piscotty and three RBI from Jonathan Lucroy. The only downside to any of this is that, with the A’s winning this year, the plan to filp Jackson — that had to the plan, right? — is no longer operative so, absent an A’s collapse in August that gets him traded in a waiver deal he won’t also get to play for his 14th team. All milestones are important, man.

Mariners 2, Astros 0: The A’s pick up no ground on Seattle, but they and the Mariners pick up a game on Houston as James Paxton twirled seven shutout innings which rendered Nelson Cruz‘s sixth inning two-run double sufficient enough offense to beat the Astros. Houston has lost five in a row and six of seven. Their lead in the AL West is down to three games.

Giants 5, Padres 3: San Diego came back from an early 3-0 deficit to tie things up with a Christian Villanueva RBI double in the eighth to force extras. Gorkys Hernandez broke that tie with a 12th inning homer and Buster Posey added an insurance run with a fielder’s choice later that inning.

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.