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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Blue Jays 7, Giants 3: As noted last night, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his first career homer and it was a shot. Later in the game, however, he hit his second home run — with two men on base — and it was even a longer shot. The first one went 438 feet, the second: 451. Guerrero finished with three hits and four RBI. All that the same ballpark where Vlad Guerrero Sr. won the Home Run Debry back in 2007.

Watch these blasts:

Welcome to the bigs, kid.

Rockies 5, Red Sox 4: As Bill noted last night, Chris Sale struck out 17 Rockies in seven innings. After he left, Red Sox relievers added seven more in the next three innings for a total of 24 through the top of the 10th inning. With no walks! But the game was still going, tied at four, and that momentum would not hold up in the 11th. That’s when Ryan Brasier came in, walked two batters and gave up a go-ahead single to Mark Reynolds and the run held up. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon each hit two-run homers in regulation for the Rockies previous four runs. Boston’s four came on homers from Michael Chavis, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers plus a Mitch Moreland RBI single in the eighth.

Is there anything more 2019 baseball than a team striking out 24 times and winning?

Indians 9, White Sox 0: Carlos Carrasco tossed seven shutout frames and three relievers handled the final two. More importantly, the moribund Indians’ offense finally woke the heck up, hitting five homers, with Jordan Luplow going deep twice and knocking in three in all. Now if only they can face the White Sox and Manny Bañuelos every time out. Luplow has hit three of his four 2019 homers off of him.

Cubs 3, Reds 1: Kyle Hendricks was damn nigh untouchable again, allowing only one run on three hits over eight. He also hit a two-run double to give the Cubs their first two runs and singled twice. Hendricks has won all three of his starts in May, allowing only one earned run in 25 innings. The Cubs are 10-2 on the month so far. They’ve won 22 of 28 overall. Remember way back in April when Joe Maddon was supposedly on the hot seat? Seems like a thousand years ago.

Mets 6, Nationals 2: Speaking of hot seats, Dave Martinez’s Nationals gave their fans another uninspiring performance. Let’s see how they’re taking it:

Given how this one started it’s understandable to feel that way. The Nats had two outs in the first inning with a runner on, Wilmer Difo threw away a tailor-made double play ball to extend the inning and then former Nats catcher Wilson Ramos hit a grand slam. From there Noah Syndergaard took a no-hitter into the sixth to help extinguish any remaining hope Washington fans harbored. The Nats lost for the 11th time in 15 games and have only the truly wretched Marlins to thank for not owning the worst record in the National League.

Brewers 6, Phillies 1: Yasmani Grandal hit a three-run homer in the second and Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the third to put this one away pretty early. In case there was any doubt of that, Brewers’ starter Brandon Woodruff gave up only one hit in six shutout innings, working around five walks. Bryce Harper hurt himself making a sliding catch into the wall in foul territory, stayed in the game and then made another catch just like it to end the inning, gaining a standing ovation from the Philly crowd. Two innings later he struck out and got booed. The Philly crowd rides an emotional roller coaster not unlike that my kids rode when they were toddlers.

Astros 11, Tigers 4: Not gonna say Houston is on a roll, but the Astros have won seven games in a row and have scored 61 runs in those games for an 8.7 run/game average. Carlos Correa hit a first inning homer — a three-run shot — George Springer hit an inside-the-park homer and Aledmys Díaz went deep as well. Like so many inside-the-parkers, Springer’s was premised on a bad bounce and, his hustle aside, there wasn’t even a play at the plate:

Most overrated allegedly exciting play in baseball. Beats out the “stealing home” play in which it’s really a delayed double steal with runners on the corners and the catcher gets deked into firing it down to second.

Rays 4, Marlins 0: Charlie Morton tossed six shutout innings to improve his record to 4-0 and lower his ERA to 2.32. Avisail Garcia homered, had three hits in all and drove in three. Not bad for a day in which the Rays, due to weather issues the night before, had to wake up at 5:30AM for a morning flight to Miami.

Cardinals 14, Braves 3: One of the reasons the Braves didn’t upgrade their rotation in the offseason was because they believed, not unreasonably, that Mike Foltynewicz was a serviceable ace and the young pitching depth they possess would carry them the rest of the way. That last part has been mostly born out this year but the first part ain’t happening. Foltynewicz began the year on the injured list and has been dreadful since being activated. here he was torched for eight runs on seven hits and couldn’t make it out of the fifth to balloon his ERA to 8.02. He’s allowed eight homers in 21.1 innings across four starts, including three here to Marcell Ozuna, Dexter Fowler and Yadier Molina. Kolten Wong added a later three-run shot. In 2018 Foltynewicz allowed only 17 in 183 innings.

Twins 4, Angels 3: Twins catcher Mitch Garver has been a big reason for Minnesota’s early season success, and he continued to produce when he hit a two-run homer to help the Twins to an early lead. But he left the game late with an ankle sprain after making a nice play at the plate to put out a sliding Shohei Ohtani and prevented the tying run. It’s unclear how long he’ll be out but not a good thing for the Twinkies. Ohtani had three hits, including an RBI single in a losing cause.

Royals 11, Rangers 5: The Royals scored nine times in the first two innings to make this one a laugher for everyone except Rangers starter Shelby Miller. Hunter Dozier drove in three, and Alex Gordon and Jorge Soler drove in two each. Miller has a 9.51 ERA on the season and opposing batters are hitting .317 off of him. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking he’s not gonna be long for the Texas rotation. Nicky Lopez, the Royals’ rookie second baseman making his big league debut, got his first hit and first RBI in the bigs in the seventh inning.

Pirates 6, Diamondbacks 2: Josh Bell homered twice, driving in four, Cole Tucker hit a two-run homer and Joe Musgrove allowed only one hit over seven shutout innings. Bell extended his hitting streak to 14 games, and it hasn’t been a single-a-night affair: he’s batting .421 over that span with seven doubles, six home runs and 21 RBI.

Dodgers 6, Padres 3: Manny Machado came back to Dodger Stadium was booed heavily but had himself a nice night anyway, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer. That was about all that went right for the Padres, though, as rookie phenom Chris Paddack was touched for six runs — three earned — in four and two-thirds and surrendering homers to Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger. Bellinger knocked in three on the night. Clayton Kershaw, now relying on craftiness over dominance, pitched seven innings, allowing three, and picked up his third win of the year.

Mariners 4, Athletics 3: The M’s got solo homers from Daniel Vogelbach and Tim Beckham in the second inning and a two-run homer in the fifth inning from Mitch Haniger to break a 2-2 tie and give Seattle its winning margin. Mike Leake was effective for six innings but got into some trouble in the seventh, allowing a run to make it 4-3. Cory Gearrin relieved him and promptly put two men on but Roeins Elías put out the fire.

Orioles vs. Yankees — POSTPONED:

You and me and rain on the roof
Caught up in a summer shower
Dryin’ while it soaks the flowers
Maybe we’ll be caught for hours
Waitin’ out the sun
You and me were gabbin’ away
Dreamy conversation sittin’ in the hay
Honey, how long was I laughing in the rain with you
‘Cause I didn’t feel a drop ’til the thunder brought us to

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

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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.