Associated Press

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 7, Marlins 6: Miami led 5-1 heading into the top of the ninth and needed only three outs to get the win and avoid the sweep. They’d get three outs, sure, but not before Atlanta scored four. The first came after Tyler Flowers doubled, took third on a wild pitch and then was balked home. Two batters later Ronald Acuña Jr. smacked a hanging slider for a three-run homer to force extras. Please, no one show this to Steve Blass. I’d hate for him to become filled with disgust at the jewelry and the “everything” and the “stuff” or whatever it is that angers him about Acuña:

The teams traded runs in the tenth inning, with the Braves’ run scoring on four straight two-out walks which is, no, not what you want. Atlanta took the lead and, eventually, the game thanks to an Ozzie Albies triple and a Matt Joyce single which drove him home.

Dodgers 1, Giants 0: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?! I PUT THE SCORE THERE AND YOU JUST STARE AT IT?! IS THAT IT?! MOVE ALONG, PAL!!!

Sorry. Just caught up in all of Madison Bumgarner‘s insane, red-ass energy, on full display after Max Muncy hit that first inning dinger off of him:

But, to be fair, Muncy was TOTALLY showboating it. I mean, look:

You might think that little slow-walk-to-trot is pretty tame as far as these things go, but he may have been making a face too. I’m sure it has nothing to do with Bumgarner being a fragile and delicate little flower who fills his diaper when things don’t go his way.

Seriously, though: the absolute most exciting, coolest, badass, thing I’ve ever seen in person at a ballpark was when Bumgarner pitched five shutout innings on two days rest to win Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. It was just the best. But he’s the last dude I care to watch in a random game. Baseball: a land of contrasts.

After the game, Bumgarner was asked about his case of the Mad Bum, and he said this:

“I can’t even say it with a straight face but the more I think about it, I should just let the kids play. But I just … I can’t. … They want to let everybody be themselves, then let me be myself. That’s me.”

That’s like the baseball version of “your intolerance of my intolerance is totally intolerant!” or something. I like what Muncy said better:

So much fire to this that everyone forgot that Walker Buehler tossed seven shutout innings.

Mariners 9, Angels 3: Edwin Encarnación hit two homers. His second dinger was his 400th career bomb. Maybe it’s because of the cities in which he’s played– Cincinnati, Toronto, Cleveland and Seattle don’t get the kind of press other baseball towns get — but Encarnación’s may be the quietest 400 homers ever as far as hype goes. He has just showed up to work every day for 15 years and has done the do, man. And I love to see it. For a specific reason.

I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again: In 2005 I drove up to Cleveland on Friday afternoon to visit my law firm’s home office for a weekend retreat. I was checking into the Marriott downtown at about three o’clock or so and Encarnación was in front of me in line. He had just been called up from the minors and was set to make his big league debut against the Indians that night. He seemed sort of overwhelmed — he probably just got off a puddle-jumper from Louisville — but the Marriott clerk was walking him through everything, giving him a big manilla envelope with all kinds of stuff the Reds had left for him, telling him that there was a car waiting to take him to Progressive Field since the team had already gone over and all of that. I knew who he was — and the hotel clerk knew who he was — but I doubt anyone else there had a clue and, frankly, he seemed lost. And it made my heart go out to him because I couldn’t even imagine how simultaneously stressed and excited he was at the time. Whenever I see him doing something great in the big leagues I still think back to that 22-year-old kid trying to navigate the Cleveland Marriott while his inner monologue was probably “I’M IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES NOW HOLY CRAP!!!” on repeat. Congrats, Edwin. Because of those few minutes in the hotel lobby I have some random vicarious pride for everything you’ve ever done.

Tom Murphy hit two homers too. Daniel Vogelbach and Kyle Seager each went deep for Seattle as well.

Rays 6, Red Sox 1: Brandon Lowe hit two solo homers and an RBI single, Guillermo Heredia and Yandy Díaz hit solo shots, and Blake Snell allowed only one run over six. The Rays took three of four from Boston and end the weekend tied with the Yankees for first place. I don’t know who is gonna win the division but I feel like Boston is gonna have to get cool with being a Wild Card team.

Yankees 7, Indians 6: The Yankees probably should’ve lost this game, at least if cosmic stuff mattered. They blew a 5-0 lead in the sixth and a 6-5 lead in the ninth thanks to a couple of bad errors from Aroldia Chapman and Didi Gregorius. Aaron Hicks saved their bacon and helped the Bombers avoid the sweep, when he hit an RBI double with two outs in the 10th. Brett Gardner hit a two-run homer despite stitches in his lip from that little helmet-throwing tantrum he threw the other day. In case you missed it:

Nice recovery, Brett!

Reds 4, Phillies 3: The Reds were down 3-1 in the seventh and rallied for three runs on a two-run single from Joey Votto and an RBI single from Eugenio Suárez. The Phillies might’ve gotten one more run earlier in the game if Bryce Harper had been a step faster on an attempted straight steal of home:

Or if Rhys Hoskins hadn’t stepped out of the box and given the catcher a clearer shot and a better chance to tag Harper. Or, really, since Hoskins likely had no idea that Harper was going — Gabe Kapler called it “overaggressive” later — maybe he scores later if he just doesn’t try to steal at all?

Diamondbacks 8, Blue Jays 2: Carson Kelly and Ketel Marte each homered as the Snakes scored eight in the third inning to help them complete the sweep. Eduardo Escobar had three hits and reached base five times. The Diamondbacks have won six of eight.

Mets 6, Rockies 1: Noah Syndergaard tossed seven one-hit shutout innings and, this time, Mickey Callaway did not lift him too early. Todd Frazier doubled and homered and drove in four. Colorado only had two hits in the entire game. The Mets have won four of five.

Twins 12, Tigers 2: Nelson Cruz homered for the fourth straight game and Miguel Sanó, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario also homered for the Twins. Jake Odorizzi didn’t need that kind of run support, though, as he allowed only one run over six, winning for the ninth time in ten starts. He has given up just one run in his past 22 and a third innings. The Twins take two of three from a Tigers team that has lost 13 of their last 15 at home.

Astros 4, Orioles 0: Wade Miley and four relievers combined for a six-hit shutout and Yordan Álvarez hit a two-run homer in his major league debut. Not that the power should be a surprise. He hit 23 homers in just 56 games at Triple-A this season. Normally I’d make a joke along the lines of “he was so comfy with Triple-A pitching that, obviously, he felt comfortable facing the Orioles,” but Dylan Bundy actually pitched pretty well for Baltimore so that’d be a low blow. Álvarez earned that first dinger.

Brewers 5, Pirates 2: Christian Yelich hit his league-leading 24th homer on his bobblehead day. Mike Moustakas hit a homer that, because it smacked an SUV on display beyond the outfield wall, won the car for the fan. Hit bull, win steak, etc. Another random thing from the AP gamer:

COUNSELL ON JURY DUTY

Brewers manager Craig Counsell was notified by Milwaukee County that he may be called for jury duty.

Craig, if you wanna get out of it, just take George Carlin’s advice: tell the judge you’ll be a GREAT juror because you can spot a guilty person *snap* just like that!

White Sox 5, Royals 2: Eloy Jiménez hit a moon shot, folks:

471 feet if you believe the Statcast folks. Meanwhile Sox’ starter Reynaldo López was solid, allowing one run on four hits in six innings, walking one and striking out eight.

Athletics 9, Rangers 8: Oakland took an 8-0 lead into the fourth inning, thanks in part to homers from Matt Olson and Khris Davis. Texas clawed back, though, making it 8-6 by the eighth. Oakland made it 9-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Texas scored two more but . . . the A’s wriggled out of it. Phew. In other news, Bryce Harper should watch the part of the Rangers’ clawing back that involved Rougned Odor stealing home. Maybe he can get some pointers.

 

Nationals 5, Padres 2: It was 1-1 in the too of the eighth when the Nats went back-to-back-to-back-to-back. The mashers were Howie Kendrick, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon, respectively:

Cubs 5, Cardinals 1: For the second time this season the Cubs sweep the Cards at Wrigley. Kyle Hendricks scattered eight hits over seven one-run innings. Or, well, six zero-run innings and one one-run inning. “Seven one-run innings” sounds like he gave up a run an inning for seven innings and that certainly didn’t happen. Adam Wainwright, meanwhile, pitched one one-run inning, one two-run inning and two and a third zero-run innings. Gosh, this is complicated. I need to think of another way to talk about games like this. Let’s just note that Kyle Schwarber knocked in two and Carlos González hit his first dinger as a Cub.

MLB execs go to bat in favor of shrinking minor leagues

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Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports published an article this morning in which he quotes several executives of MLB teams, including Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen and Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro, defending the league’s proposal to cut 42 minor league baseball teams.

We first learned of the idea about a month ago. The proposal was widely panned, even drawing scorn from Congress as more than 100 members of Congress — including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — signed a letter condemning the league. In the time since, MLB has spent considerable time defending itself amid the public scrutiny. MLB also got into a bickering match with Minor League Baseball.

To generally sum up what was said in Brown’s column: the GMs echoed what MLB previously said in defensive of its proposal, which is that cutting 42 minor league teams (mostly in short-season and rookie ball) would free up more money to pay players more and improve their working conditions, including food and travel as well as facility conditions.

It is hypocritical for the league and team executives to express concern for the salaries and the quality of life for minor league players. After all, Major League Baseball spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress in order for language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to be amended. Doing so allowed the league to classify minor leaguers as seasonal workers and thus not owed things like a minimum wage and overtime pay, among other worker protections. This all happened because MLB is the defendant in a class-action lawsuit, originated by Aaron Senne and several other former minor league players, alleging that the league violated state and federal minimum wage laws with minor league players.

Shapiro is not a fan of Sanders’ constant harping on the league’s proposal. Shapiro said, “I’m never going to go toe-to-toe with him on domestic policy. But I will go toe-to-toe with Bernie Sanders on professional baseball.” As Brown explains, Shapiro is among those who believes that having a smaller minor league system would allow his organization to offer greater focus to each player remaining within that system. With the increased focus, the team would be better able to develop major league-caliber prospects. As we know, teams love prospects because their salaries are artificially depressed for the first six years of their careers.

One anonymous GM harped on the fact that “minor league baseball is not a moneymaker.” It didn’t sound like he was complaining; rather, simply recognizing how their parent teams view the situation. Another anonymous GM, however, said that the 42 teams are on the chopping block “for a reason.” He added, “I’m guessing that reason isn’t because they had overwhelmingly positive gate turnouts or that their facilities were in good shape. I think that’s been the criteria.”

As I pointed out last month, there are two teams that, at minimum, disprove the shabby-facility talking point. The Lowell Spinners (short-season) have had multiple renovations done in recent years. Team owner Dave Heller called his team’s stadium “arguably the best facility in the New York-Penn League.” The Quad Cities River Bandits, as another example, have earned awards from BallparkDigest.com for “Best Ballpark Improvement” and finished in third place as recently as two seasons ago for “Best View in the Minors.”

As for attendance, BallparkDigest has the 2019 numbers for all 160 teams here. The four Double-A teams on the chopping block — the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Chattanooga Lookouts, Erie SeaWolves, and Jackson Generals — ranked 91st, 74th, 80th, and 130th, respectively. Only one of those teams is significantly below the 50th percentile. Furthermore, one of the High-A teams on the list, the Frederick Keys, ranked 57th in attendance this past season, close to being in the top one-third of the entire minor league system.

The arguments are obviously facile. We should expect nothing less, however, as these execs do the bidding of their team’s ownership. Their jobs necessitate developing players efficiently and thoroughly. Chopping 42 minor league teams would have the double benefit to them of helping reduce overhead so the owners can report higher profits, as well as making their system run more efficiently (or so they think). So be it if thousands of jobs in towns across the U.S. get slashed in the process. So be it if small towns lose a central focus of their local economies and cultures. So be it if baseball becomes significantly less accessible across the nation.