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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.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: