Associated Press

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 25, Mets 4: Well that sure was a butt-kickin. Like, it was already a butt-kickin’ when it was 19-0 after five innings and then Jose Reyes was brought in to pitch in the eighth and coughed up six more runs. In all it was the Mets’ most-lopsided defeat in the team’s 57-season history, and in case you were unaware, there has been a lot of futility packed in to those 57 seasons. As this one wore on, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Gary Cohen of the SNY broadcast team read verbatim from the team’s media guide to kill the time as the theme from “Masterpiece Theatre” played in the background. Which, hats off to them for doing anything to make this all entertaining. Daniel Murphy hit two homers and drove in six runs, Anthony Rendon had four RBI and Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Adams and Mark Reynolds homered. Adams and Reynolds’ should only count for half, though, as they came off of Reyes. I dunno, there was blood all over the box score. That’s why I link it up top. If I spend to much more time on it I may get nauseous.

Meanwhile, in games that were not a complete and utter joke . . .

Giants 3, Padres 2: Giants starter Derek Rodriguez allowed one run over seven and was in line for the win before Manuel Margot and the Padres scored in the eighth to force extras. In the top of the tenth Evan Longoria led things off with a triple, however, and he was eventually plated by a Brandon Crawford single to give San Francisco the winning margin and the sweep of the two-game series.

Phillies 3, Red Sox 1: In contrast, Jake Arrieta‘s one run over seven held up for the W, as he was backed by RBIs from Jorge Alfaro, Scott Kingery and Carlos Santana, ending the Phillies’ four game skid. After the game Gabe Kapler said “We are a bunch of fighters . . . there’s a lot of grit and determination and heart in that room and those are the things we can be very proud of in this moment.” What, no moxie? For shame.

Yankees 6, Orioles 3: A four-run fifth led by a Miguel Andjuar three-run homer keyed the Bombers offense and Masahiro Tanaka‘s six shutout innings kept the O’s off the board until they were already in too deep a hole to climb out of. Jace Peterson knocked in two of Baltimore’s three runs and scored the third on an error. Given all of the trades the Orioles made yesterday it’s frankly amazing that someone any of us had heard of did that for them. I expected their box score to have names like “Guy,” “Dude Man,” and “The kid, you know, with the hair?” all over it.

Athletics 6, Blue Jays 2Trevor Cahill allowed two runs on five hits and struck out six in six innings and Khris Davis homered and had three hits in all. Matt Olson had two RBI, Mark Canha doubled twice and stole home and Marcus Semien added two hits. It was Bob Melvin’s 600th win as the Athletics’ manager. If he keeps the job for three more seasons — and he’s likely to — he’ll eventually pass Tony La Russa, who had 798 in green and gold. He’ll need about 36 more seasons, at .500 ball, to catch Connie Mack. That would make Melvin 92 years old or so when he broke the record. Which sounds rather silly. Of course Connie Mack himself was 87 when he was forced out of the dugout, and I’m guessing a 92-year-old Melvin will have more of his faculties about him then the 87-year-old Connie Mack did, so let’s do this thing!

Pirates 5, Cubs 4: David Freese doubled in Gregory Polanco twice and Polanco and Francisco Cervelli homered as the Pirates stay hot. There was a call late that went in favor for the Cubs on the field but was overturned on replay. After the game Joe Maddon said “I went up and looked at it. The call on the field has integrity and I’d really need to see why that was changed.” I don’t know what that means, “the call on the field has integrity.” It means little I suppose, but even the implication that replay calls are somehow less legitimate than ump calls is one of the many reasons why the whole manager challenge thing is dumb. If the replay crew was just part of the umpire crew and was considered its eyes and ears instead of some sort of big brother figure from on high we’d never talk about it. It’d be just like any other umpire calls we debate.

Tigers 2, Reds 1: Matt Boyd tossed eight shutout innings and got a homer from Niko Goodrum and an RBI double from Mike Gerber to back him. Homer Bailey went the distance — eight innings since the Tigers didn’t have to bat in the ninth — and took the tough loss. Can’t remember the last time I saw a couple of regular guy pitchers, as opposed to dueling aces, go eight innings against one another.

Rays 10, Angels 6: The Rays put up a seven-run fourth inning and chased Tyler Skaggs that frame after he gave up ten runs in all. Carlos Gomez had two hits in the big inning, Matt Duffy had three hits and Jake Bauers homered. Mike Trout homered and doubled and Kole Calhoun had three hits including a two-run homer in the losing cause.

Braves 11, Marlins 6: Kolby Allard made his big league debut as the Braves starter and allowed five runs — four earned — in five innings. That won’t normally get you a win, but since his teammates unleashed a 19-hit attack, he was fortunate enough to get the W. Ronald Acuña, Nick Markakis and Johan Camargo all went deep for Atlanta and Kurt Suzuki hit a three-run double. Ender Inciarte had four hits and Freddie Freeman had three as the Braves won their third in a row.

Royals 4, White Sox 2: Danny Duffy pitched shutout ball into the sixth as Ryan O’Hearn, making his big league debut, and Brett Phillips each hit two-run homers for the Royals. The Chisox lost their fifth in six games.

Indians 6, Twins 2: Trevor Bauer battled himself a bit, walking a few and striking out fewer, but he allowed only two runs while pitching into the seventh. Jose Ramirez had three hits and drove in two, Greg Allen had three hits and scored three runs and Edwin Encarnacion drove in a three late insurance runs with a two-run single and a fielder’s choice.

Diamondbacks 6, Rangers 0: Zack Godley struck out ten and allowed only two hits in seven shutout innings. A.J. Pollock homered. Nick Ahmed drove in two on a double and scored on a wild pitch. This win put the Dbacks back into first place in the NL West, with an assist from . . .

Brewers 1, Dodgers 0: . . . Wade Miley, who tossed seven shutout innings, the Brewers pen, which tossed two more and Lorenzo Cain, who doubled in the game’s only run in the third inning. Miley is now 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA in seven starts in Los Angeles and, somehow, has a 2.01 ERA in five starts overall this season despite walking more guys than he has struck out.

Rockies 6, Cardinals 3Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez each homered and Jon Gray pitched into the eighth inning, winning his fourth straight decision. The Rockies finished July with a 17-6 record and are now tied with the Dodgers, a half game back. The NL West race is gonna be fun over the final two months of the season.

Astros 5, Mariners 2: Houston snaps its five-game losing streak. Evan Gattis and Josh Reddick each hit two-run homers and Reddick added an RBI single. Charlie Morton struck out eight while allowing two runs over six. Their lead goes back up to four over Seattle in the West.

Rob Manfred explains reasoning behind proposal to cut 42 minor league teams

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As we learned earlier this week, Major League Baseball wants to contract 42 minor league teams, mostly in short-season and rookie ball. The proposal earned a lot of backlash, including from some of the teams on the chopping block and from Congress. MLB responded with its own letter to Congress, written by deputy commissioner Dan Halem, explaining the league’s reasoning.

In the letter, Halem complains about the lack of competition between minor league teams and independent teams. Halem wrote, “The lack of competition among operators of teams for an affiliation with a Major League Club has reduced the incentive for some affiliated Minor League teams to improve their facilities and player amenities.” It is an interesting thing to write as someone representing a $10 billion business that has benefited for a century from an antitrust exemption.

Halem also noted that MLB has several goals that are supposedly attained by cutting 26 percent of the minors: ensuring the quality of the facilities for the players, reducing the travel burden, improving the “compensation, accommodations, and amenities” for players, improving the affiliation process between minor league and major league teams.

Commissioner Rob Manfred essentially echoed that sentiment on Thursday, per Newsday’s Laura Albanese. He gave four reasons behind the proposal: inadequate facilities, travel, poor pay, drafting and signing players who don’t have a realistic shot to make it to the majors. The last reason is a new one, but let’s go over those four reasons in context.

It is true that some, perhaps even most, of the facilities of the 42 named teams are inadequate. It’s not all of them. As NECN’s Jack Thurston reports, the owner of the short-season Lowell Spinners, Dave Heller, said that his team’s stadium is “arguably the best facility in the New York-Penn League,” speaking highly of its lighting and field conditions. The Quad Cities River Bandits, the Astros’ Single-A affiliate and also on the chopping block, renovated their stadium a handful of times over the last 12 years. In fact, it earned an award from BallparkDigest.com for “Best Ballpark Improvement” in both 2008 and ’09, and finished third in the 2018 running for “Best View in the Minors.” At any rate, if facility quality is such a big issue, why did the Athletics continue to play in a stadium that repeatedly had its sewage system overflow in 2013?

Travel is certainly a big issue for minor leaguers because they mostly travel by bus, not plane. Having teams located closer to each other would be more beneficial in this regard. Or — and hear me out, here — major league teams could take on the extra expenditure of paying for their minor leaguers’ airfare. Several years ago, the Phillies took on the extra expenditure of making sure their minor leaguers ate healthy food and that has worked out well. The Blue Jays took on the extra expenditure of giving their minor leaguers a pay raise and that has worked out well. The Red Sox took on the extra expenditure of installing a sleep room at Fenway Park to ensure their players were well-rested and that has worked out well. No one is suggesting that Single-A players have to fly first class on every flight, but the travel issue is an easy fix that doesn’t require contracting 42 teams. Teams have individually chosen to improve their players’ quality of life and it has yielded positive results. Imagine it on a league-wide scale for thousands of players in their formative years.

Manfred citing minor league pay as a basis for the proposal is laughable. His own league successfully lobbied Congress to amend language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, classifying minor league players as seasonal workers. That means they are not entitled to a minimum wage or overtime pay, among other worker protections. If the pay of minor league players was so important to Major League Baseball, it wouldn’t have pressured the government to legally ensure they didn’t have to pay them a living wage. Every baseball team is worth at least a billion dollars. The league has set year-over-year revenue records for 16 consecutive years, crossing $10 billion in 2018. Minor leaguers could be compensated well without robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Lastly, it is true that a majority of minor league players will never reach the major leagues. That doesn’t mean that their presence in the minor leagues or their effort to realize their dreams have zero value. Lopping off the bottom 26 percent of minor leaguers might nominally increase the level of skill on each roster, but it eliminates so many jobs — well over 1,000. Furthermore, there are few incentives for athletes to want to slog through several years of the minors as it is, as Kyler Murray recently showed, but there would be even fewer incentives by shrinking the minors (and, consequently, the draft). Shrinking the minors and the draft could lead to more minor league free agents, but if baseball is actually interested in a free market (it’s not) then it should abolish the draft entirely as well as the arbitration system.

These reasons, each uniquely fallacious, hide the real reason behind the proposal: shifting money around so Major League Baseball can say it will award pay raises to minor leaguers, ending a years-long stretch of bad P.R., without actually cutting into profits. MLB could have afforded to pay minor leaguers a living wage years ago and it chose not to. MLB could have chosen not to lobby Congress for the ability to continue underpaying minor leaguers years ago, but it chose to do so. Everything since has been the league trying to avoid lying in the bed it made for itself.