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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Phillies 6, Mets 3: The Phillies beat the Mets in walkoff fashion for the second straight day and, once again, they came from behind to do it. Philly trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth but Maikel Franco tied it up with a two-run homer off of Edwin Díaz. Two more Phillies batters reached to bring up Jean Segura. Díaz, still pitching, then served up a walk-off three-run home run and that was that. The Phillies came into the series losers of seven straight but completed a four-game sweep. The Mets came in embattled and flailing and continue to flail.

Rangers 3, Tigers 1: Rangers starter Ariel Jurardo tossed seven shutout innings and was staked to a 2-0 lead thanks to two Joey Gallo solo homers and Shin-Soo Choo hitting a sac fly for a third run. Texas has won five in a row and, thanks to the Astros skid, are only four and a half games back in the AL West.

Pirates 10, Astros 0: About that skid: Josh Bell, Kevin Newman, Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Jacob Stallings all hit homers for the Pirates as they routed the Astros for the second straight game. Joe Musgrove tossed six shutout innings and three Bucco relievers no-hit Houston for the final three innings. The Astros have lost nine of 11 games and, as stated above, now only lead the Rangers by four and a half. I’d love to see a race here given how few races we’ve seen, so please, keep this up Houston.

Rays 5, Twins 2: This game was tied at two by the second inning and then it stayed tied until the friggin’ 18th. I love me some baseball and everything, but that’s a bit much. Especially considering that there was a nearly one-hour rain delay here before they got underway AND the game lasted five hours and forty-two minutes. As it was, Yandy Díaz broke the tie with a sac fly before Willy Adames and Ji-Man Choi each singled in runs to give Tampa Bay the winning margin. Nineteen pitchers were used in this game. It wasn’t that long ago when two teams wouldn’t have had nineteen available pitchers between them for a ballgame.

Brewers 4, Mariners 2: Orlando Arcia hit a three-run homer in Milwaukee’s four-run fourth inning after Chase Anderson bunted in run on a suicide squeeze. Anderson likewise allowed only one earned-run while working into the sixth to help the Brewers salvage one in the three-game set.

Cubs 9, Braves 7: Atlanta took a 6-1 lead by the fourth but it didn’t hold thanks to the Cubs scoring seven runs between the fourth and the fifth. Former Brave Jason Heyward tripled in a run in the fifth to tie things up and Victor Caratini hit a two-run homer, scoring Heyward, to give the Cubs the lead in the same inning. The clubs traded runs to make it 9-7 Cubs by the sixth and that set the stage for new Cub — and former Brave — Craig Kimbrel to lock down his first save in his first game in 2019. as is often the case with Kimbrel, it wasn’t a stress-free affair. He got two quick outs before putting two on and then getting out of the jam thanks to a diving play by Anthony Rizzo when Kimbrel failed to cover first base. I suppose that happens when you didn’t get a spring training and thus didn’t get to do all of those pitcher fielding drills.

Nationals 8, Marlins 5: Victor Robles and Matt Adams homered in Washington’s five-run sixth inning to erase a three-run deficit. Juan Soto and Kurt Suzuki also went deep. The Nationals have won 8 of 10 and are not at .500. What a difference a month makes. 

Dodgers 12, Rockies 8: A Coors Field special, with 20 runs on 33 hits between ’em. Three of those hits and four of those runs came off of Wade Davis in the ninth inning, with Chris Taylor singling in a run and Kiké Hernandez hitting a three-run pinch-hit homer to turn a tie game into a Dodgers win. Taylor had for hits on the night. Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, Alex Verdugo and Justin Turner all homered for L.A. Muncy homered twice. The Dodgers have beaten the Rockies 12 straight times.

Diamondbacks 5, Giants 1: Dbacks starter Alex Young made his major league debut, allowing one run on five hits in five innings, with a Brandon Belt solo homer as the only blemish. After that Snakes’ bullpen no-hit the Giants for the final four frames. I feel like “Brandon Belt hits solo homer, Giants otherwise shut out” is something I’ve seen in the box scores 10 times this year, but it’s probably just me imagining things. Nick Ahmed and Carson Kelly went deep for Arizona.

Angels 8, Athletics 3: Kole Calhoun and Shohei Ohtani each hit two-run homers and every Angels batter in the lineup had at least one hit. Starter Griffin Canning allowed only three hits over six while striking out six in helping the Halos to their fourth straight win.

Scott Boras: Astros players don’t need to apologize

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Ken Rosenthal spoke to Scott Boras about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Boras’ take: the Astros need not apologize for what they did. They were mere babes in the woods who were ignorant of everything. I wish I was making this up. Scotty Baby:

“I’m doing what my organization is telling me to do,” Boras said on Wednesday, describing the hypothetical mindset of a player. “You installed this. You put this in front of us. Coaches and managers encourage you to use the information. It is not coming from the player individually. It is coming from the team. In my stadium. Installed. With authority.”

The analogy Boras used was the speed limit.

A man driving 55 mph in a 35-mph zone only believes he is speeding if the limit is clearly posted. Likewise, Boras said Astros’ players who committed infractions only should apologize if they were properly informed of their boundaries.

It’s worth noting two things at this juncture: (1) Scott Boras represents José Altuve and Lance McCullers; and (2) He’s 100% full of crap here. Indeed, the contortions Astros players and their surrogates are putting themselves through to avoid accountability is embarrassing.

The players knew what they were doing.  Please do not insult me by saying they didn’t. Boras is doing what he thinks he needs to do to protect his guys. I get it, that’s his job. His client Altuve in particular stepped on it last weekend when he and other Astros players tried to play the “we’re going to overcome this adversity/no one believed in us” card which played terribly, and the super agent is trying to clean up the mess as best he can. Hat tip to him for his hustle, which he has never not shown. Guy’s a pro.

But he can only do so much because this all remains on the Astros’ players. Yes, the formal punishment is on the manager, the general manager and the club, and I agree that it had to be given all of the complications of the situation, but now that that’s over, it’s time for some honest accountability. And we’re getting zero of it.

Which is insane because the players were given immunity. They’re 100% in the clear. That they cheated has angered a lot of people, but it does not make them irredeemable. As I have noted here many times, lots of others did too. But their lack of accountability over the past couple of weeks speaks very, very poorly of them.

“We crossed a line. No question. We’re sorry. We don’t think it caused us to win anything we didn’t earn, but we see how we created that perception ourselves through our own actions. We shouldn’t have done that. Going forward we’re going to be better. Again, we’re sorry.”

That’s about all it’d take and it’d be done. It’d be pretty easy to say, if for no other reason than because that’s probably what’s gone through their minds anyway. They’re not bad people.

But they’re also observers of America in 2020 and, I suspect, everything they’ve seen, consciously or unconsciously, has counseled against them saying those very simple words or something like them.

Everything that’s going on in America right now — politics especially — tells people that the path to success is to cheat, steal and lie in order to benefit themselves and themselves only. It’s also telling them that, if they get caught, they should lie and deny too. It works. The media, for the most part, will not call anyone of status out on a lie, even if the lie is ridiculous. At most it will repeat the denial like a stenographer reading back from a transcript fearing that to do any more would be to — gasp! — reveal an opinion. “Shlabotnik says that he was cloned by Tralfamadorians and it was his clone, not him, who stole the signs.” Heaven forbid someone add the word “falsely” in there. They won’t because if they do they’re going to be accused of being “biased” or “political” or whatever.

If you see that — and we all see it — why wouldn’t you be predisposed to avoid apologizing for anything? Why wouldn’t you try to offer some canned, facially neutral talking points and hope that everyone is satisfied that you’ve spoken? Why wouldn’t you, having done that for a few weeks, begin to believe that, actually, you’re right not do say anything more. And  that, maybe, you were never in the wrong at all? That’s were we are as a country now, that’s for sure. And given that sports reflects society, it should not be at all surprising that that attitude has infected sports as well.

Astros owner Jim Crane tells Rosenthal that there could be an apology in spring training. “Quite frankly, we’ll apologize for what happened, ask forgiveness and move forward,” Crane said.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that when someone says “quite frankly,” what follows is going to be insincere most of the time. Another thing I’ve learned is that, in comments such as Crane’s, the emphasis is strongly on the “move forward” part of things. He wants an apology to put an end to a bad news cycle. When it comes, it will be P.R.-vetted and couched in the most sterile and corporate language imaginable. It will be anything but sincere.

In the meantime, the rest of the Astros don’t seem to want to offer an apology at all. Why should they? What’s making them?