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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Angels 5, Rays 3: The power went out during the bottom of the fourth inning, delaying this one 36 minutes, but Shohei Ohtani shined, hitting for the cycle on a 4-for-4, three-RBI day. As we noted last night, Ohtani is the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle in the majors. He was, quite obviously, a key part of the win as his three-run homer in the first put the Angels up early, but he also came around to score on Albert Pujols‘ fifth inning two-run homer. That homer was Pujols’ 200th with the Angels, making him the sixth player in big league history to do that with two different teams.

If you had asked me point blank who the guys were who had done that I probably would’ve guessed Mark McGwire and Jimmie Foxx immediately, and then I would’ve incorrectly guessed Barry Bonds, who only had 176 in Pittsburgh. If you had given me enough time I probably would’ve gotten Rafael Palmiero and Manny Ramirez but I would’ve embarrassingly blanked on Griffey Jr. hitting more than 200 for Cincinnati because, like a lot of people, I just sort of mentally filed his Reds years away as a noble failure of the you can’t go home again variety. Thing was, he played there nine years, hit 40 in his first season and topped 30 a couple more times. It just seems like he was perpetually playing 100 games and having his season cut short by a pulled hamstring every year.

Blue Jays 12, Orioles 3: The Jays rattled off 17 hits on the day and scored a season high 12 runs and, thanks to the Raptors, ain’t no one in Toronto gonna care about it today. It happens. Cavan Biggio scored a run in Toronto’s seven-run sixth inning and hit homers in both the second and seventh. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered in that big inning, had three hits in all and drove in three. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Danny Jansen had three hits and two RBI each.

Braves 6, Pirates 5: The Pirates led 2-1 in the fifth when the Braves rallied for five against Joe Musgrove. Freddie Freeman tripled in a run to tie things up and then Josh Donaldson — who had the “don’t look at me” fight with Musgrove just the other day — then hit a go-ahead RBI single off of him. Two batters later Ozzie Albies doubled in two to make it 5-2, chasing Musgrove. The Braves have won seven straight — sweeping the Pirates in this four-game series — and now lead the NL East by a game and a half.

Twins 10, Mariners 5: Big innings were the order of the day yesterday. Here it was the Twins putting up a six-spot in the sixth. Nelson Cruz was a rude host to his old team, knocking three hits, hitting a homer and driving in three. C.J. Cron went deep too and Max Kepler drove in a couple.

Diamondbacks 5, Nationals 0: Zack Greinke took a no-hitter into the eighth and left with seven and a third shutout innings with just a couple of hits allowed. He needed only 75 pitches to get that far and probably would’ve finished it off if it wasn’t for an hour-long rain delay that hit that inning. Alex Avila and Jarrod Dyson homered for Arizona, which has won seven of eight.

Red Sox 7, Rangers 6: The Rangers took a 4-0 first inning lead and led 6-1 after their half of the second but the Sox bashed their way back. All seven of the runs Boston scored came on homers, with Jackie Bradley Jr. hitting a three-run shot in the second, and J.D. MartinezMichael Chavis and Rafael Devers hitting solo shots. Xander Bogaerts‘ seventh inning solo blast broke a 6-6 tie and completed the comeback.

Royals 7, Tigers 3: The Royals win the first-ever major league game in Nebraska, played there as part of the festivities for the College World Series. It was a sellout crowd of 25,454, which I seriously doubt Detroit or Kansas City would’ve come close to for a Thursday night game if they had played it at home. Nicky Lopez, who played for Creighton University, which plays its games in TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, had a nice homecoming, hitting a solo homer in the second inning to kick off the game’s scoring. Whit Merrifield had a couple of hits and drove in two and Homer Bailey tossed six shutout innings.

White Sox 5, Yankees 4: New York took a 4-0 lead into the fifth when Leury García doubled in a run and then Tim Anderson hit a three-run homer to tie things up. The White Sox took the lead in the seventh when García launched a solo homer off of Adam Ottavino. García on his homer:

“I just tried to swing at good pitches. I wasn’t looking for a homer. I just wanted to try to get on base.”

He said that through a translator, which means that empty baseball cliches transcend the language barrier. The White Sox have won four of five.

Rockies 9, Padres 6: Charlie Blackmon hit two homers, tripled and finished with four hits and four RBI on the night. Since coming off the injured list Blackmon is 11-for-25 (.440) with four home runs and 10 RBI in six games. Jon Gray got off to a rough start but he ended up going six innings and struck out ten dudes. Trevor Story also homered. The Rockies have won 11 of 12 at home. Manny Machado hit two homers in a losing cause for the Padres.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 3: Clayton Kershaw found himself down 3-0 early, but that’s all he allowed and ended up going six innings and picked up his sixth win. He was picked up by his offense in a major way, as Cody Bellinger hit two homers and drove in three while Max Muncy and David Freese each had two run shots.

Cardinals 4, Mets 4 — SUSPENDED:

There’s no sensation to compare with this
Suspended animation, a state of bliss
Can’t keep my mind from the circling skies
Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I

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.