Getty Images

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

28 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 4, Indians 1: Niko Goodrum and John Hicks homered off of Trevor Bauer, who was touched for ten hits and four runs and couldn’t escape the sixth. Matthew Boyd, meanwhile, came off his double-digit strikeout streak but was still effective and snagged the W by allowing one run over six. Detroit has won six of seven. They’ve played twelve games and Shane Greene has eight saves. These things are not sustainable, obviously.

Rays 9, White Sox 1: Tyler Glasnow was filthy, striking out 11 guys in six shutout innings in which he allowed only two hits. He is 3-0 with a 0.53 ERA on the year. Austin Meadows, meanwhile, was 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBI. He has four homers on the year. Gettin’ a sense that the Rays won the Chris Archer trade, folks. Tommy Pham hit two homers for Tampa Bay in the rout.

Padres 3, Giants 1: A good pitching matchup between Padres rookie Nick Margevicius (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 6K) and Giants second-year starter Derek Rodriguez (7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5K) but a sixth inning Manny Machado homer put San Diego on top and the Giants had no offensive answer. Kevin Pillar homered to keep his hot run alive, but there just aren’t any real threats up and down San Francisco’s order. Machado flashed some good leather in this one too, which not only helps validate his signing but validates calling Fernando Tatis Jr. up too. If they played service time manipulation with him Machado is likely playing short, where he is merely adequate, not third, where he is a significant defensive asset.

Reds 2, Marlins 1: Down 1-0, and in the process of being one-hit in the eighth, the Reds got solo shots from both José Iglesias and Jesse Winker for the lead and, ultimately, the win. Iglesias played some sweet defense earlier in this tight one as well, putting a stop to a couple of Marlins scoring threats. Long term the Reds obviously prefer Scooter Gennett, and obviously Iglesias is not some All-Star or anything, but it’s still rather amazing to me that he had to settle for a late spring training minor league deal this year given how useful a player he is.

Athletics 10, Orioles 3: The A’s smacked five homers with Khris Davis smacking two of them. The second one was the 200th dinger of his career. He drove in four. Matt Chapman drove in three. The other slugging Davis — Chris, of the Orioles — was 0-for-1 in pinch hitting duties, so his ignominious streak continues.

Nationals 15, Phillies 1: Washington scored 15 runs without the aid of a homer. Matt Adams led the way with four RBI, but everyone in the Nats lineup hit. In this they picked up where they left off on Tuesday night when they rallied to beat Philly in extras. Here they scored three in the first off Nick Pivetta and kept on rattling out hits. Seventeen in all, with seven walks. They outscored the Phillies 24-1 in the final 15 innings of the series. The only thing that went OK for Philly was an inning of decent relief — with two strikeouts and some high gas! — from outfielder Aaron Altherr.

Mets 9, Twins 6: Jake Odorizzi and Twins relievers put together what is easily the worst inning of pitching we’ve seen so far this season, allowing seven straight batters to reach base without a hit or an error in the bottom of the fifth. They walked six and hit a batter without recording an out and, at one point, threw 19 balls in a span of 21 pitches. Minnesota started the inning with a 1-0 lead and, after a one-out single, found themselves down 4-1 before another hit was allowed. Just stunning work. Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard was shutting the Twins down, at least for a while. He’d tire later to allow the Twins to pull close and Edwin Diaz allowed them to pull a bit closer in the ninth but this game was all about that train wreck of a fifth inning.

Astros 8, Yankees 6: Two homers for José Altuve, a dinger and three driven in for Carlos Correa and a sweep of the Yankees in Houston. Collin McHugh allowed two runs on four hits while striking out nine in six innings for his second straight win. The Yankees made it closer late but leave Houston without a win for the first time ever.

Cardinals 7, Dodgers 2: Marcell Ozuna atoned for his . . . unique approach to outfield defense on Tuesday with a nice night on Wednesday. The Cards left fielder went 3-for-4 with a home and two driven in while Yadier Molina hit a two-run shot and knocked in three. Jack Flaherty was in control all evening, allowing one run on three hits over six. The Cards have won four in a row. The Dodgers have lost three straight.

Pirates 5, Cubs 2: Jordan Lyles struck out 10 in six while Francisco Cervelli and Starling Marte homered on a cold and blustery night in the Windy City. Yu Darvish allowed five runs — four earned — and five hits in 5.1 innings, but he didn’t walk anyone so I suppose that’s progress. Jason Heyward had three hits, including a homer. He has stated the season hitting .371/.452/.714 with four jacks, so I guess not all of Chicago’s high-priced free agents are doing poorly at the moment.

Mariners 6, Royals 5: It was tied at five in the ninth when Mitch Haniger hit a two-out homer that gave the Mariners the 6-5 lead that would turn into the 6-5 final. It also had the benefit of extending the M’s games-to-start-the-season-with-a-homer streak to 14, tying the season-opening mark of the 2002 Indians. Whit Merrifield broke George Brett’s team hitting streak record in a losing cause. He did it on a bunt single in the bottom of the seventh. They all count. His 31-game hitting streak is baseball’s longest since Dan Uggla hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011 with the Braves. In Swedish, “Uggla” means “owl.”

Rangers 5, Diamondbacks 2: Lynn struck out nine over six and the Rangers rallied late after being no-hit into the fifth inning. Hunter Pence hit a homer in the hot tub behind the right field fence:

Baseballs float so they should call balls hit into that pool “floaters.” I got a million ideas like this, folks. Eventually someone from Major League Baseball will call me.

Angels 4, Brewers 2: No Mike Trout, no problem, as the Angels win their sixth straight. There wasn’t a ton of offense, but they bunched it all together nicely, scoring all their runs on four hits in the third inning. Justin Bour had the “big hit” with a two-run single. This is the first time the Brewers have been swept in any series since last July.

Braves vs. Rockies — POSTPONED:

Where is Mona?
She’s long gone
Where is Mary?
She’s taken her along
But they haven’t put their mittens on
And there’s fifteen feet of pure white snow?
Where is Michael?
Where is Mark?
Where is Mathew
Now it’s getting dark?
Where is John? They are all out back
Under fifteen feet of pure white snow
Would you please put down that telephone
We’re under fifteen feet of pure white snow

Whitewash: Rob Manfred says he doesn’t think sign stealing extends beyond the Astros

Getty Images
25 Comments

Rob Manfred said today that he believes the sign-stealing scandal which has taken over the news in the past week does not extend beyond the Houston Astros. His exact words, via Jeff Passan of ESPN:

“Right now, we are focused on the information that we have with respect to the Astros. I’m not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We’ll deal with that if it happens, but I’m not going to speculate about that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.”

This is simply incredible. As in literally not credible.

It’s not credible because, just last week, in the original story in The Athletic, it was reported that the Astros system was set up by two players, one of whom was “a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources . . . they were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good. They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.”

The very next day Passan reported that Major League Baseball would not limit its focus to the Astros. Rather, the league’s probe was also include members of the 2019 Astros and would extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentioned the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Add into this the Red Sox’ pre-Cora sign-stealing with Apple Watches and widespread, informed speculation on the part of players and people around the game that many teams do this sort of thing, and one can’t reasonably suggest that only the Houston Astros are doing this.

Which, as I noted at the time, made perfect sense. These schemes cannot, logically, operate in isolation because players and coaches change teams constantly. In light of this, players have to know that their sign-stealing would be found out by other teams eventually. They continue to do it, however, because they know other teams do it too. As is the case with pitchers using pine tar or what have you, they don’t rat out the other team so they, themselves, will not be ratted out. It’s a mutually-assured destruction that only exists and only works if, in fact, other teams are also stealing signs.

So why is Major League Baseball content to only hang the Astros here? I can think of two reasons.

One is practical. They had the Astros fall in their lap via former Astro Mike Fiers — obviously not himself concerned with his current team being busted for whatever reason — going on the record with his accusation. That’s not likely to repeat itself across baseball and thus it’d be quite difficult for Major League Baseball to easily conduct a wide investigation. Who is going to talk? How can baseball make them talk? It’d be a pretty big undertaking.

But there’s also the optics. Major League Baseball has had a week to think about the report of the Astros sign-stealing and, I suspect, they’ve realized, like everyone else has realized, that this is a major scandal in the making. Do they really want to spend the entire offseason — and longer, I suspect, if they want a thorough investigation — digging up unflattering news about cheating in the sport? Do they really want to be in the bad news creation business? I doubt they do, so they decided to fence off the Astros, hit them hard with penalties, declare victory and move on.

Which is to say, it’s a whitewash.

It’s something the league has tried to do before. They did it with steroids and it didn’t work particularly well.

In 1998 Mark McGwire, that game’s biggest star at the time, was found to have the PED androstenedione in his locker. It was a big freakin’ deal. Except . . . nothing happened. Major League Baseball planned to “study” the drug but most of the fallout was visited upon the reporter who made it public. It was accompanied by some shameful conduct by both Major League Baseball and the baseball press corps who eagerly went after the messenger rather than cover the story properly.

Four years later Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco went public with their PED use and said drug use was widespread. MLB’s response was slow and, again, sought to isolated the known offenders, singling out Caminiti as a troubled figure — which he was — and Canseco as a kook — which he kind of is — but doing them and the story a disservice all the same.

The league eventually created a rather toothless testing and penalty regime. Congress and outside investigative reporters filled the void created by the league’s inaction, calling hearings and publishing damning stories about how wide PED use was in the game. Eventually Bud Selig commissioned the Mitchell Report. Some ten years after the McGwire incident baseball had at least the beginnings of a sane approach to PEDs and a more effective testing plan, but it was pulled to it kicking and screaming, mostly because doing anything about it was too hard and not very appetizing from a business and P.R. perspective.

And so here we are again. Baseball has a major scandal on its hands. After some initially promising words about how serious it planned to take it, the league seems content to cordon off the known crime scene and refuses to canvass the neighborhood. Sure, if someone gratuitously hands them evidence they’ll look into it, but it sure sounds like Rob Manfred plans to react rather than act here.

That should work. At least until the next time evidence of cheating comes up and they have to start this all over again.