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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 6, Rays 2; Yankees 5, Rays 1: The Yankees swept a big doubleheader against their division rival and that’s super important, blah, blah, blah, but everyone is gonna remember this for Aaron Boone’s over-the-top profane rant against rookie home plate umpire Brennan Miller in Game 1.

It came after Brett Gardner struck out on a 1-2 pitch that, nah, wasn’t a strike, and after an earlier questionable call on a pitch to Aaron Judge. Gardner went back and started smashing his bat around the dugout pretty good and Boone jawed at Miller and got ejected. After the ejection he went out to give Miller what-for:

If you can’t read lips, Boone said “my guys are f***ing savages in that f***ing box and you’re having a piece of s**t start. I feel bad for you. But f***ing get better. That guy is a good pitcher. But our guys are f***ing savages in that box. Our guys are savages in the f***ing box. Tighten it up right now, OK? Tighten this s**t up.

I’m not sure that that really holds up as a cogent argument — the ump should be calling balls and strikes better even if his guys are, I dunno, missionaries up there too — but that’s not the point, of course. It was just some magical stuff that (a) had the immediate impact of lighting a fire under his team; and (b) will no doubt be a go-to rallying cry/joke/t-shirt slogan for the rest of the year. Indeed, I saw people selling t-shirts online with that slogan before the game was even over. The Internet is amazing sometimes.

Marlins 4, Padres 3: Brian Anderson doubled home the winning run in the ninth to give Miami its first walkoff win of the season. That was a big hit on a night when Marlins batters constantly failed with runners in scoring position but they were in a position to win thanks to Marlins pitchers who struck out 15 Padres batters. They took two of three from San Diego

Phillies 7, Dodgers 6: Philly got to the soft underbelly of the mighty Dodgers — the bullpen — and scored four runs off of three L.A. relievers in the seventh inning. Bryce Harper‘s RBI single that inning tied things up and Rhys Hoskins‘ two-run single gave Philly a two-run lead. Harper has been on fire of late. He went 6-for-13 with three doubles, a homer and seven driven in in the four-game set against L.A. and  is hitting .313/.404/.521 with ten driven in in 13 games in July.

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 0: Chris Sale had an excellent outing, tossing six shutout innings while striking out 12. He allowed two hits and two relievers who followed him allowed zero hits in the final three frames. Meanwhile, Rafael Devers and Mookie Betts each hit homers. Devers’ was a three-run shot. Devers has feasted on Blue Jays pitching this year. The AP notes that he has 28 RBI against the Blue Jays in 2019. It’s the most runs batted in for any player against a single opponent in one season since Gary Sheffield drove in 28 runs against the Orioles in 2005. Devers has three more games against Toronto in 2019.

Royals 6, White Sox 5: Jorge Soler hit a two-run homer, Billy Hamilton hit a two-run single and Cheslor Cuthbert had three hits as Kansas City sweept the four-game set and took its sixth of seven games.

Indians 6, Tigers 3: Cleveland keeps rolling. Trevor Bauer struck out ten while working into the seventh, Jordan Luplow and Jose Ramírez each hit two-run homers with Ramírez knocking in three in all. The Indians have won 11 straight games over the toothless Tigers this season.

Cardinals 7, Reds 4: The Reds took a 3-0 lead but the Cards tied it up ad then Tommy Edman hit a grand slam that broke that 3-3 tie. The Cards have won five of six. The Reds have stumbled out of the gate in the second half and have gone from at least nominal contention in the bunched-up Central to eight games back. That was mildly fun while it lasted.

Nationals 13, Braves 4: Stephen Strasburg had himself a game, hitting a three-run home run to cap off an eight-run third inning for the Nats and then adding a two-run single later on. It wasn’t his greatest day on the mound — he allowed three runs and couldn’t get out of the sixth — but his arm didn’t need to carry the day when his bat was doing all that. Víctor Robles and Brian Dozier each drove in a couple as Washington routed Atlanta and pulled to within five and a half in the East.

Twins 6, Athletics 3: Eddie Rosario hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning and Mitch Garver and C.J. Cron each went deep after him to pad the lead and to stop the A’s five-game winning streak. Kyle Gibson allowed three over seven innings to pick up his ninth win. And here’s a weird thing:

[Athletics starer Mike] Fiers threw only 89 pitches, but the heat factored into manager Bob Melvin’s decision to remove him. Fiers also had the misfortune of glancing at the scoreboard and seeing Gibson’s pitch count of 106, mistakenly believing it was his.

“Mentally, it crushed me,” Fiers said.

We’re all victims of whatever it is our minds do to us, I suppose.

Astros 6, Angels 2: Alex Bregman and George Springer homered while Wade Miley pitched two-run ball into the sixth inning as the Astros earn a series split from the Angels. Springer had four home runs in the four-game series. Mike Trout returned to action L.A. but went 1-for-4 in DH duty.

Brewers 5, Diamondbacks 1: Zach Davies allowed only one run on five hits over seven innings. Dbacks starter Merrill Kelley was even better, line score-wise, allowing one run on three hits and striking out six in his seven innings of work. Milwaukee got to Yoan López in the eighth, however, plating three, and then Ryan Braun homered in the ninth. Lorenzo Cain robbed a homer too, on what was probably the catch of the day yesterday:

Giants 3, Mets 2: The Mets scored one in the first, the Giants scored one in the fourth and it stayed a 1-1 game for 11 more innings. Things heated up in the 16th, though, with a Pete Alonso homer putting the Mets up 2-1. Chris Mazza could not lock it down for New York, though, giving up a leadoff double to Alex Dickerson, an RBI double to Brandon Crawford which tied it up, hit a batter, gave up a single that loaded the bases and then allowed Donovan Solano to smack a walkoff RBI single for the Giants win. Silver lining from the Mets is that they got eight shutout innings from their bullpen. Quantity ain’t everything, though, I suppose.

Ahoy, San Diego: 2019 Winter Meetings Preview

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Over the weekend the baseball world will descended on San Diego, California for the 2019 Winter Meetings. Let’s talk about what’ll go down there in the next week.

 

Free Agents

So far this has been a much brisker offseason than the past two, during which it seemed like no one signed between November and February. This year, however, we have already seen top-30 free agents Zack Wheeler, Yasmani Grandal, Cole Hamels, José Abreu, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Moustakas, and Michael Pineda sign, and a handful of others have inked pacts as well.

Still, there’s a lot of work to be done. Top free agent Gerrit Cole has had some heat around him lately, with the Yankees reportedly hot on his trail, and New York has at least had a conversation with San Diego native and resident Stephen Strasburg as well. Beyond them, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Nicholas Castellanos, and Josh Donaldson are all looking for new employers as well.

At the end of October Rotoworld’s Matthew Pouliot ran down the top 111 free agents, from highest-ranked to lowest, to help you get a jump on who is available.

 

Trades

Free agent signings notwithstanding, we are in an age in which a lot of teams are in cost-savings mode. For that reason some big, MVP-caliber names are reportedly on the trading block, including Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, Francisco Lindor of the Indians and, perhaps, Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Nolan Arenado of the Rockies. Beyond them, there has been chatter about the Dodgers dealing Joc Pederson, the Tigers dealing Matthew Boyd and the Pirates and Rockies shopping anyone worth a bag of balls.

Whether any of those big names switch teams, it’s already been a pretty active trading season so far, and it would not be at all surprising of the transaction wire is humming in the next week. We, of course, will have near-instant breakdowns of every deal that goes down, so make sure you keep a window open with this site on it and hit refresh early and often.

 

Managers on Parade

 

Trade deals and free agent negotiations take place behind closed doors, so we can only talk about those once they happen. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press.

We have a boatload of new managers this year, all of whom have had their happy little press conferences back in their home cities so far. The press availabilities at the Winter Meetings are a bit more in depth and, quite often, feature managers giving more detailed answers to their philosophies and their plans as they prepare for the 2020 season.

New at the little tables and under the bright lights this year: Jayce Tingler with the Padres, Mike Matheny with the Royals, Gabe Kapler with the Giants, David Ross with the Cubs, Derek Shelton with the Pirates, Joe Maddon with the Angels, Carlos Beltrán with the Mets, and Joe Girardi with the Phillies.

And, yes, the tradition like no other continues this year, as I will be ranking all 30 of the current managers on the basis of handsomeness. Here’s last year’s rankings. The new rankings will go up first thing Monday morning. It’s the silliest thing I do all year and, for better or for worse, it’s the thing I’m best known for. What a life I have.

 

Hall of Fame Vote

The Modern Baseball Era Committee — formerly known as the Veterans Committee — will meet on Sunday to vote in, or not vote in, new inductees for the Hall of Fame. For the past two weeks I’ve been profiling the candidates. Here are those profiles:

Committee members get four votes each. If I had four I’d give them to Whitaker, Evans, Simmons, and Miller, but you never know what the real voters will do. We’ll have the results up on Sunday evening once the vote is made public.

 

Major League Baseball vs. Minor League Baseball

One thing a lot of people don’t know about the Winter Meetings is that it’s put on, primarily, by Minor League Baseball as an organization and the vast majority of the people on the ground at the Winter Meetings either run or work for or are trying to sell stuff to minor league teams. Almost every team’s owner comes and brings along some staffers. Coaches, trainers, scouts, and other team employees who spend most of their year out in the bushes as opposed to back at the big club’s home base attend meetings and hobnob with one another.

Normally that’s all pretty routine. This year, however, it probably won’t be thanks to Rob Manfred’s plan to contract 42 minor league clubs and rearrange a great many more of them across levels and leagues.

As we noted earlier today, that scheme has set off a political firestorm and is no doubt the top agenda item and point of concern for every single minor league official and employee at the Winter Meetings. There are, reportedly, already meetings going on in San Diego about all of this. Expect some news about it at any point in the next week. At this point I’d expect anything from Manfred totally scrapping the plan, to him doubling down on it, to reports of general acrimony and possible legal action and everything in between.

 

The Boring Business of Baseball 

Outside of the transactions, the Hall of Fame stuff, the managers and the minor league contraction intrigue, we’ll likely have more mundane Winter Meetings business. Most people at the Winter Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings. There is no single rule change that everyone is talking about at the moment, but something will likely pop up. Sometimes we’re completely surprised with that kind of stuff.

 

The Rule 5 Draft

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am Pacific time on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected, but by next summer you may very well know some of them who are either picked or who were made available this week. Max Muncy could’ve been had by anyone a couple of years ago, went un-picked and all he’s done is rake like crazy for the team with the most wins in the National League. Given that even the combined minds of 29 front offices didn’t think he was worth a roster spot last year, you’ll be forgiven for not having any idea about the guys in this year’s Rule 5. But, if you want to at least attempt to be prepared for it, here’s a good place to start.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at the Hyatt Manchester in San Diego — and maybe a few other places around town — bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event.