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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 5, Marlins 2: The Nats remain red hot. Anthony Rendon homered in the fourth to tie the game at two and hit an RBI single in the fifth to put the Nats up for good. Aníbal Sánchez, meanwhile, allowed two runs — only one earned — in six innings. Washington has won four in a row. Thanks to this win, and the Phillies’ loss to Atlanta, they’ve moved into second place in the NL East and are in a three-way tie for the top Wild Card position.

Indians 8, Royals 4: Like the Nats, the Indians were all but written off a month ago but they’re red hot as well. Here the Royals had a 3-2 lead to start the seventh when Cleveland exploded for six runs, capped off by Jose Ramírez’s second homer of the game. Francisco Lindor drove in three, including the go-ahead runs with a two-run single in that big inning. With that Cleveland sweeps the Royals, wins its fourth straight overall, now stands only six games behind the Twins in the Central and find themselves in the second Wild Card position in the American League.

Braves 12, Phillies 6: Philly jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first with three RBI singles off of Mike Soroka, but Soroka would settle down and wouldn’t give up another run before exiting in the fifth. The Braves bats, meanwhile, broke out the bats and tied things up by the end of the second inning and took the lead on a three-run homer from Ozzie Albies in the third. The homer-fest continued with Dansby Swanson hitting two out and Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson going deep as well. The Braves extend their lead over the now-third place Phillies to six and a half games. On June 1 the Phillies were in first place with a three-game lead.

Cubs 11, Pirates 3: Hey Joe Maddon, how do you feel about the Pirates pitching your guys up and in?

I see.

Normally I’d say something about Joe West being thin-skinned and unnecessarily ejecting a guy who’s sitting in the dugout simply for jawing, but it’s 100% the case that Maddon wanted to be run there in an effort to light a fire or what have you. And, whether it was mere correlation or actual causation, the Cubs did get hot after that, turning a one-run lead at the time of the ejection into a rout. They had a five-run fifth inning. Kris Bryant homered and four hits on the day. Willson Contreras had three hits and drove in three. Maddon, he said after the game, enjoyed “a nice glass of red wine” in the clubhouse after he got tossed.

Athletics 7, Twins 2: Marcus Semien had a game, hitting a solo homer in the fifth and a grand slam in the eighth which turned a 3-2 lead into a 7-2 lead. Semien after the game: “We had two grand slams this series. That’s the best you can do.” I know he means that a grand slam is the best possible outcome of any given at-bat, but when I first read that I took it as “you can’t do better than hitting two grand slams.” My mind immediately went “wait, how about three grand slams?” and then I immediately thought of this:

In my defense, I think of that at least three or four times a week.

Tigers 11, White Sox 5: We used to watch a lot of Tigers games in this house but their rebuild and their new broadcast booth has tamped down interest at Chez Calcaterra. Yesterday, however, we turned on this one and watched/listened as we prepped for Fourth of July chow and, whaddaya know, they broke out the bats and won big. Maybe it was us. Matthew Boyd struck out 13 in five and a third and Detroit put together a five-run sixth inning to salvage the final game of the three-game series. Eight of the nine batters in Detroit’s lineup drove in at least one run with Nicholas Castellanos, Niko Goodrum and John Hicks each knocked in two. Miguel Cabrera, Niko Goodrum and Jeimer Candelario each went deep.

Reds 1, Brewers 0: Luis Castillo was dominant, allowing only one hit while pitching shutout ball into the eighth inning and striking out nine. Yasiel Puig knocked in a run with an infield single in the first inning and that was all the offense in the entire game. This one concluded in a crisp two hours and nineteen minutes. Cincinnati won for the fourth time in five games. The Brewers have lost three of four and haven’t scored a run in 23 innings.

Cardinals 5, Mariners 4: Tommy Edman hit a big three-run homer in the Cards’ Wednesday win and he hit a big two-run single here, helping St. Louis snag a come-from-behind win. Jut before the single he almost hit a grand slam but it just hooked foul. Matt Wieters and Dexter Fowler homered for the Cards, who took two of three from Seattle.

Yankees 8, Rays 4: The Rays rallied against Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, forcing what was a three-run game into extra innings. The Yankees exploded for five runs in the tenth, however, when D.J. LeMahieu knocked in two with a single and Gary Sánchez followed with a three-run homer. Luis Cessa allowed one back to Tampa Bay in the bottom half, but he’d hold on for the save. The Yankees have taken eight of ten from the Rays this year and now have a season-high seven and a half game lead in the East.

Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 7: Marco Hernandez hit a tie-breaking home run in the ninth inning. Michael Chavis hit a three-run homer and Rafael Devers added a solo shot in a game the Blue Jays led 6-1 after four innings. Hernandez’s homer came off of Ken Giles. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said this about Giles’ performance: “He just gave up a home run. Other than that, he was good.” Mrs. Lincoln rather enjoyed the first two acts of “Our American Cousin” as well. Not sure what else Montoyo would say there, though. It’s not like he could say “Giles? Harrumph! the Red Sox bats turned him inside out, that  sockdologizing home run trap!”

Rangers 9, Angels 3: This was supposed to be Tyler Skaggs‘ start. As it was, Brad Ausmus used a patchwork of pitchers that, in the end, weren’t very effective. Meanwhile Rangers starter Lance Lynn won his 11th game by allowing only two runs while scattering nine hits in seven innings of work. He was backed by two Rougned Odor homers — a two-run shot and a three-run blast — as the Rangers salvage one in a series everyone involved is relieved to be done with.

Dodgers 5, Padres 1: Hyun-Jin Ryu continues to do what he’s done all year, blanking the Padres on three hits for six innings. Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger homered. It was Bellinger’s 30th on the year. The win was the Dodgers’ 60th. That projects to 55 homers and 109 wins. Mercy.

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?