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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 8, Rockies 2: Joc Pederson hit two homers, Max Muncy hit a three-run shot and Los Angeles moves back into first place. The win not only pushes the Rockies out of first, but out of playoff position as the Cardinals win allowed them to leap Colorado into the second Wild Card spot. At least those three teams are giving us some late season playoff drama, such as it is. Even worse news for the Rockies than the loss was the loss of Trevor Story, who hurt his elbow on a throw in the first inning and later aggravated it on a swing in the fourth, forcing him out of the game. He will have tests today, but suffice it to say, if the Rockies are going to stay in this thing they’re gonna need Story.

Brewers 8, Reds 0: Christian Yelich hit for the cycle for the second time in three weeks, with both of those cycles coming against the Reds. He singled in the first inning, doubled in the third, hit a two-run home run in the fifth, and completed the cycle with a two-run triple in the sixth. He is only the fifth player to hit for the cycle twice in a season and is the first in baseball history to do it twice in the same season against the same team. Yelich is now hitting .318/.385/.570 with 31 home runs, 93 RBI, 102 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 597 plate appearances, which is some MVP stuff. In other news, Wade Miley tossed five shutout innings and the pen handled the rest, limiting the Reds to eight hits overall.

Mariners 4, Astros 1: Wade LeBlanc and four relievers combined to hold Houston to one run on three hits, but that one run held up until the eighth inning, with Houston clinging to the smallest of margins. Daniel Vogelbach came in as a pinch hitter that inning, however, with the bases loaded, and launched a grand slam over the fence in right center. With that Seattle takes the lead in their season series with the Astros, 9-8. Which ain’t the playoffs, but I suppose it’s something. The loss cut Houston’s lead in the AL West to four games over Oakland so, maybe, it’s the stuff of being a spoiler?

Cardinals 11, Braves 6Kolten WongPaul DeJongHarrison Bader and Yadier Molina all hit homers for the Cardinals whose win, combined with the Rockies’ loss to the Dodgers, put the Cardinals back into position for the second Wild Card. The Braves, meanwhile, have lost three in a row, but it didn’t matter as much as it could’ve given that Philly lost to the Mets, reducing Atlanta’s magic number to seven. Not that their play of late should give them much confidence assuming they do win the division. Their pitching has been bad, giving out walks like they’re candy on Halloween.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 0: Ryan Borucki pitched eight innings of shutout ball and three Jays — Danny Jansen, Kevin Pillar and Aledmys Diaz — homered. The Orioles’ 107th loss ties their 1988 mark for the most losses in Orioles history. It’s only the third time the team has lost 100 games, with the first time being in their inaugural season in Baltimore back in 1954. If you include the St. Louis Browns years, you have to go back to 1939 and that club’s 111-loss season for a year this bad. They lost 107 in 1910 and 1911 too. Those latter three teams only played 154-game seasons, but still, this is an historic club.

Mets 9, Phillies 4: Michael Conforto went 3-for-5 with an RBI single, and RBI double and a homer, driving in six. Zack Wheeler allowed four runs over seven innings to pick up his ninth win since the All-Star break and 14th in all. In the second half Wheeler is 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts.

Pirates 7, Royals 6: This game went back and forth but the Royals had a two-run lead in the eight when Ed Ryan O'Hearn hit a solo homer. The Pirates were not done, however, as they tied it in their half of the eighth with a Pablo Reyes single and a Starlin Marte RBI triple. Rookie catcher Jacob Stallings ended things with a walkoff single in the ninth.

Twins 6, Tigers 1: The Twins scored four runs in the fourth and were never challenged. Kohl Stewart didn’t start — the Twins used an opened — but he took over and worked through the seventh allowing only an unearned run on three hits.

Marlins 8, Nationals 5: Washington led 4-0 after three but blew that lead with Miami’s go-ahead run scoring on a balk of all things. Washington would tie it up again but then Lewis Brinson hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh. Starlin Castro had a homer and three RBI for the Fish.

Rays 3, Rangers 0: Tyler Glasnow pitched six shutout innings allowing only two hits — both infield singles — and Adam KolarekJose Alvarado and Sergio Romo each tossed a scoreless inning to complete the combined two-hitter. They were backed by Ji-Man Choi‘s homer and an RBI single. The Rays have been on absolute fire for a month.

Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1: Kyle Hendricks took a shutout into the ninth inning but gave up a homer to A.J. Pollock and that was that. That was still an easy win, though, as two-run homers from Javy Baez and Kris Bryant gave the Cubs a comfy margin by then.

Giants 4, Padres 2:  Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria homered and Andrew Suarez pitched into the eighth allowing two runs on four hits. The Padres lost their 91st game, which was how many they lost last year. They lost 94 the year before. A lot of Padres fans will, quite correctly, note that A.J. Preller has built a nice farm system and that it’s still a rebuild in progress, but at some point the Padres need to give fans who don’t follow minor league system rankings and who don’t bone up on their prospects lists each spring a reason to care.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.