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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 8, Pirates 7: Coming out of a rain delay tied at six, Josh Bell hit a solo shot for Pittsburgh in the top of the ninth. Braves rookie Austin Riley matched him with one of his own in the bottom half, however, sending things to extras. Riley played a part in the win, too, when he was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the 11th. One batter and six pitches later Ozzie Albies doubled in Riley for the walkoff win. That’s six straight for Atlanta and, as of last night, sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Brewers 6, Astros 3: Justin Verlander struck out  15 batters in seven innings but he also gavr up three home runs — to  Ryan BraunYasmani Grandal, and Eric Thames — and ended up with a no-decision as the game went to extras. All the way to the 14th, in fact, where Astros reliever Cionel Pérez gave up a two-run shot to Mike Moustakas, after which Jesús Aguilar knocked in an insurance run. In the end, Astros pitchers struck out 24 Brewers batters. Didn’t matter, though.

Red Sox 4, Rangers 3: The Rangers tied it in the eighth on an unearned run but the Red Sox won it on a walkoff walk to Mookie Betts in the ninth. Futility Advantage: Boston. Andrew Benintendi hit a triple and two doubles, driving in two runs, but this game had no room for conventional offensive contributions. It turned on someone not making pitches or what have you.

I include the video highlight here, not because watching a guy take ball four is exciting, but because of the announcer’s words about how this sent “some outstanding momentum” over to the Boston Garden for the Bruins in the upcoming Game 7. Welp, that didn’t work. Tells you all you need to know about momentum.

Athletics 6, Rays 2: It was tied at two in the eighth when Ramón Laureano socked a grand slam to break it wide open. He had five RBI on the afternoon. Laureano’s comments on the slam:

“I was just trying to put the ball in the air and at least get one run but I got four. I just saw the umpire (signal) home run, and then I’m like `it’s cool.”

That started out like your standard cliche “just trying to put a good swing on the ball” quote but it sort of ended like an alternate verse to “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies. All he wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi. And she wouldn’t give it to him. It doesn’t matter, I’ll probably get hit by a car anyway.

Wait, it’s more like that “United States of Whatever” song and the “Then, up comes Zafo and I’m like ‘Yo, Zafo, what’s up?'” line. Which I always felt was trying to tap into that “Institutionalized” energy but is a pale, pale imitation. Never settle for anything less than the best.

Reds 7, Indians 2: Nick Senzel and Joey Votto hit back-to-back home runs to start the game. Later Eugenio Suárez and Curt Casali went deep. José Peraza hit an RBI double. That Senzel and Peraza did anything was gravy giving that they collided into one another in the bottom of the first and were lucky to escape serious injury.

Cubs 10, Rockies 1: This one wasn’t close as Cole Hamels struck out nine in seven scoreless innings and the offense — Hamels, who drove in two runs, included — came through big. It was chippy, though, as four batters were hit. Hamels hit Nolan Arenado in the fourth inning and Arenado had to leave the game. In the seventh, Bryan Shaw hit Hamels. In the eighth, Anthony Rizzo was hit by Phillip Diehl. Warnings were issued. In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Brach hit Tony Wolters. Despite the warnings he wasn’t ejected. Which, OK. In the Braves-Pirates game the other night three people were ejected based on someone looking at someone else but here it was carnage and it was all good. Seems cool.

Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 0: Merrill Kelly pitched shutout ball into the eighth and two relievers finished the job. The Phillies got only three hits all day while being blanked. Two of those hits were from Nick Williams, who started in place of Bryce Harper, who got the day off outside of pinch-hitting duties. The game lasted only two hours and sixteen minutes. The Phillies had a plane to catch to Atlanta in advance of a day off tomorrow so maybe they had big plans doing whatever one does in Atlanta. Which I assume is a lot but like most people my primary experience in Atlanta is transferring Delta flights.

Marlins 9, Cardinals 0: Jordan Yamamoto made his big league debut on the hill for Miami. It went well, as he blanked the Cards on three hits over seven and he even bunted in a run. The pen finished the final two innings for the second three-hit shutout on the night. Garrett Cooper hit a grand slam. Curtis Granderson hit a three-run shot. Granderson was, like, getting his driver’s permit when Yamamoto was born, by the way.

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Rowdy Tellez — who, again, I must stress, sounds like the name of a character in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming epic involving a washed-up TV western star from the 1960s, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood —  hit a grand slam to cap a six-run fifth inning for the Jays. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. knocked in two, Vlad Guerrero Jr. had three hits and the Jays withstood a late O’s rally. The nine runs Toronto scored equalled the number of runs they had scored in their previous five games combined.

Tigers 3, Royals 2: Brandon Dixon hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth for the winning margin. Two of the Tigers’ three runs came via sac flies, with Miguel Cabrera popping in a run as well. Both teams hit the airport after this one, but even if they’re getting away, they’re not getting away from each other. They face off tonight in Omaha, for that College World Series game/classic/whatever thingy. Sometimes reporters get quotes from major leaguers in these kinds of off-site games about what it’s like to play in small towns like Omaha. Given how young and green the rosters of these Royals and Tigers teams are, I’m gonna say it’s not gonna feel radically different than what most folks involved are used to.

Mariners 9, Twins 6: Seattle went 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Almost every time you see those kinds of numbers you’re talking about a team that lost. You ask for miracles, Theo, I give you the Twins’ defense. Minnesota committed two errors in the tenth inning that led to three unearned Seattle runs. They committed five errors in all, in fact, leading to four unearned runs on the game. Miguel Sanó had two of those errors on one play in the tenth:

Not a game to remember for anyone, really.

Giants 4, Padres 2: Kevin Pillar homered, Donovan Solano had two hits and two RBI and Evan Longoria drove in the go-ahead run with an infield single in the sixth. The Padres rallied in the ninth but Giants closer Will Smith remained perfect in save opportunities on the year, locking down his 16th save in 16 chances. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Giants’ lone All-Star representative this year.

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

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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.