Getty Images

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

17 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Diamondbacks 13, Phillies 8: Arizona and Philly combined to hit record 13 home runs. The previous record of 12 homers was held by the Tigers and White Sox (May 28, 1995) and by the White Sox and Tigers (July 2, 2002). Eight came from Arizona (two each from Eduardo Escobar, two from Iidemaro Vargas and one each from Jarrod DysonKetel Marte, David Peralta, and Alex Avila). Five from Philly: Two from Scott Kingery and one each from Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins and Jay Bruce.

A new record for homers in a season was set in 2017 with 6,105. That was over 400 more than the previous record, set in 2000. The pace for 2019 — before last night’s barrage — was 6,504 homers. If you think that’s great, well, that’s a matter of personal taste. If you think that’s not a function of the baseball being different than it was a few years ago you’re either lying to yourself or, if you’re an MLB official, lying to fans.

Cardinals 4, Marlins 1: Michael Wacha tossed six shutout innings and the Cards scored two runs on a throwing error off a sac bunt attempt with a third unearned following soon after. Wacha had three double plays turned behind him. No homers were hit. I suppose the Baseball Gods gave us this game as cosmic offset for the Phillies-Diamondbacks game.

Braves 13, Pirates 7: Then the Baseball Gods were back to their usual business, with seven homers in this one, five of which were swatted by the Braves. Two came from Ozzie Albies and one each from Nick Markakis, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman. Acuña’s was a grand slam and he and Markakis each drove in four. The barrage came after Pirates starter Joe Musgrove hit Josh Donaldson — grazed his jersey, really — in the first inning, leading to the benches clearing. There wasn’t any intent there. The whole dustup seemed to happen solely because Donaldson didn’t like how Musgrove was looking at him as he went to first base. Here’s Donaldson after the game:

“I feel like he came down the mound afterward. I looked away to try to give him a chance to look away from me. He kept coming down the mound and looking at me and obviously he had a problem with something.”

Really, dude? You stopped going to first base and ended up getting ejected because a guy was looking at you? I wonder if he got briefed on the finer points of red assery by Madison Bumgarner before this game. As for Musgrove, he got ejected for dropping his glove which the umpire called “aggressive.” Dude, if Josh Donaldson is coming at me I’m dropping my glove, not as an act of aggression but as an act of defense, giving me another fist in case I need it. This isn’t hockey.

Anyway, I didn’t watch this one because, for some dumb reason, Pirates games are blacked out in Ohio. When I looked at the box score and saw that Kevin Gausman got pulled in the third I thought it was because he plunked someone in retaliation. Nah, he just sucked. Again. Unsung hero of the game was Sean Newcomb, who came on to relieve Gausman and tossed four and two-thirds of one-hit, shutout ball.

Rockies 6, Cubs 5: If you want home run quantity the Dbacks-Phillies game, or maybe the Pirates-Braves game, was your bag. Here’s a home run of quality, at least if distance is quality, from Ian Desmond:

That seventh inning moon shoot was the longest in baseball this year. It also broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh. Chicago would tie it back up in he bottom of the eighth but Ryan McMahon‘s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth — which came after Daniel Murphy doubled and then stole third — would put Colorado back up to stay. The Rockies have won nine straight at home.

Rays 6, Athletics 2: Charlie Morton tossed seven shutout innings to go to 8-0 on the year and Brandon Lowe homered again. It was Morton it’s 11 straight wins without a loss overall. For Tampa Bay it’s a one-half game lead in the AL East over the rained-out Yankees.

Rangers 4, Red Sox 3: Boston blew a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, wasted an outstanding Chris Sale start (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 10K, 0 BB) but tied it up and forced extras thanks to a Brock Holt RBI single. An Elvis Andrus RBI single in the 11th gave the game to Texas, however.

Nationals 12, White Sox 1: Anibal Sánchez allowed only one run over six and the pen allowed bupkis. Trea Turner tripled and scored and also homered for the second straight game and Kurt Suzuki hit a late grand slam to make an easy win even easier. Unfortunately all of that was overshadowed by a woman getting struck by an Eloy Jiménez foul ball and taken to the hospital. A couple of weeks ago Major League Baseball said it would keep “examining” the issue of extending the netting. I presume this will cause them to offer another action-free quote. For my part, Bill’s words from last night are pretty much all that needs to be said on the matter:

In the meantime, the league will continue to promote exit velocity and utilize all kinds of distractions at the stadium as players hit baseballs harder than they ever have before, and fans are left defenseless. All stadiums in Japan have protective netting all the way down the foul lines and fans don’t even notice it. The most expensive seats at all MLB parks are already behind netting. The players want more netting. Seems like a pretty simple fix, really.

Angels 5 Dodgers 3: The Dodgers rode another excellent Hyun-Jin Ryu start (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER) to a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the seventh but the Angels would tie it on a two-run homer from Mike Trout off of Dylan Floro. In the eighth they’d score two more via a hitless rally fueled by a Joe Kelly meltdown. Kelly walked three — one intentional — tossed two wild pitches and had an additional throwing error. He now has a 1-3 record and a 7.59 ERA. The Dodgers are probably the best team in baseball right now but their bullpen is a weak spot they’ll have to address sooner rather than later.

Mets vs. Yankees — POSTPONED:

In the city lights
I swear I hear you call my name (call my name)
There’s nothing right
I’m stuck here while you’re miles away (miles away)
In New York raining
In New York raining
It’s too much my babe I need you
It’s too much my babe I need you

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

Getty Images
11 Comments

Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.