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And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Orioles 8, Rays 3: Anthony Santander went 5-for-5 with a homer, Renato Núñez had two hits and drove in three, Jonathan Villar homered, and DJ Stewart had three hits. The Orioles take the last two of the four-game series to earn the split. The Rays look really great sometimes. Then they look like crap for a couple of days. Right now they’re holding on to the second Wild Card by a mere half game.

Braves 2, Mets 1: The sweep. And a now eight-game winning streak for Atlanta. Dallas Keuchel tossed seven shutout innings while Josh Donaldson hit two solo homers. The first one allowed him to taunt a Mets fan in the process:

Atlanta continues to lead the NL East by six games. The Mets are 12 back and two back in the Wild Card.

Yankees 5, Dodgers 1: Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 Yankees but he also gave up three home runs, with D.J. LeMahieu, Aaron Judge and Mike Ford all hitting solo shots. Meanwhile his counterpart Domingo Germán allowed only one run over six and four Yankees relievers combined for three shutout frames to end it. Judge’s homer came after he promised the father of the Yankees’ bullpen coach Jason Brown:

That’s not something you see every day, eh? Something else you don’t see very often is the Dodgers dropping two of three at home, but that’s what happened, thanks in part to nine Yankees homers over the weekend. Here’s what Aaron Judge’s looked like, in photographic form:

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Pretty.

Royals 9, Indians 8: Cleveland came back from three-run deficit to tie things up in the seventh and then fell behind by five runs a mere inning later. They came back from that too, plating five in the eighth and ninth, thanks to three homers — a solo shot from Francisco Lindor and both a solo shot and a three-run homer from Franmil Reyes — to tie it up at eight and force extra innings. Momentum, schmomentum: the Royals’ Ryan O'Hearn hit a solo homer in the top of the 10th to end the scoring and, three Indians outs later, the game. Something of a gut-punch loss for Cleveland, on a day they lost one of their big bats to injury. They’re probably glad every day is not like Sunday. Come, Armageddon, come.

Marlins 3, Phillies 2: Rhys Hoskins hit a two-run homer to stake Aaron Nola to a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth. Apart from Hoskins’ blast there was nothing doing, though, as four Miami pitchers, led by Elieser Hernández, combined to allow only four hits and one walk to Philly batters. The Marlins got all of their runs in the bottom half of the sixth, with Jon Berti hitting an RBI single and Starlin Castro smacking a two-run double. Teams that have playoff pretensions probably don’t wanna drop two of three to Miami.

Pirates 9, Reds 8: Likewise, teams that wanna have self-respect probably don’t wanna drop all three games of a three-game series to Pittsburgh. Trevor Bauer was beat up for eight runs — seven earned — in only three innings. Since coming to the Reds he’s 1-3 with a 7.62 ERA in five starts. Bryan Reynolds hit a bases-loaded triple. Kevin Newman went 4-for-4, was hit by a pitch and stole two bases. Starling Marte‘s hit an RBI double with two outs in the eighth to give Pittsburgh a two-run lead. They’d hold on by one.

Astros 11, Angels 2: This was a 2-1 game until the seventh, believe it or not. That’s when Martín Maldonado hit a two-run homer. Still, 4-1 in the eighth is not an insurmount— ah, screw it. Houston plated seven runs in the eighth to make it a laugher. Alex Bregman doubled in a run that innings, followed by Abraham Toro singling in one, Yordan Álvarez coming home on a wild pitch, Josh Reddick doubling two guys in, and José Altuve hitting a two-run homer. Houston sweeps the Angels in three and has won four in a row overall.

Diamondbacks 5, Brewers 2: Robbie Ray pitched five scoreless innings while Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker each homered to help the Dbacks avoid a sweep. The Brewers remain two back of the Cubs and four and a half back of the Cardinals because . . .

Nationals 7, Cubs 5: . . . Chicago got swept in a three-game series by the hot Nationals, who have taken five in a row. Anthony Rendon was the big bat here, as he homered and had four hits overall including an RBI single in the 11th inning. Juan Soto had three hits and, though he got the no-decision, Stephen Strasburg struck out ten batters in six innings of two-run work. Shockingly, though, Hunter Strickland and Fernando Rodney could not hold the 5-2 lead to which they were staked, giving up homers to Victor Caratini and Kyle Schwarber, respectively. Not that anyone needs to tell anyone else that relying on Hunter Strickland and Fernando Rodney down the stretch against good teams isn’t the strongest idea anyone’s ever come up with.

Cardinals 11, Rockies 4: The Brewers and Cubs are continuing to battle for second place and second place only at the moment, because the Cards have won four in a row and remain atop the Central. Matt Carpenter — who has been terrible this year — hit a homer, two singles and drew a walk, while Lane Thomas hit a pinch hit homer as they easily beat the Rockies. Colorado has dropped six of seven.

White Sox 2, Rangers 0: Reynaldo López no-hit Texas for five frames but had to leave after that due to some stomach problems. Never fear, though, as four relievers each blanked the Rangers for one to complete a one-hitter. José Abreu was responsible for both of the Chisox’ runs via an RBI single and a fielder’s choice.

Twins 7, Tigers 4: C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop homered — Cron’s was a three-run shot — Martín Pérez pitched six strong innings, as Minnesota takes two of three in the series. In so doing they increased their AL Central lead to three and a half games over Cleveland.

Giants 5, Athletics 4: Evan Longoria homered and hit a go-ahead, two-run single late in the game. Donovan Solano — the guy with maybe the most Bay Area name in this Bay Area series — had four hits and an RBI as the Giants took both games of the two-game series. Which, my God, who plays a two-game weekend series? I used to understand the schedule but I really don’t anymore.

Padres 3, Red Sox 1: Manny Machado hit a two-run homer in the first to give San Diego a 3-0 lead. Joey Lucchesi gave up a solo homer to J.D. Martinez in the fourth but that’s all he and four relievers would allow to the Red Sox as they avoid a three-game sweep.

Mariners 3, Blue Jays 1: Marco Gonzalez allowed only one run on three hits over seven and was backed by a Dylan Moore solo shot and an RBI double from the red hot Kyle Seager. Tons of Jays fans come down from British Columbia whenever they play Seattle to make it a near-home game for them. Those who did watched Toronto drop two of three. That’s sad, I guess. But it’s also a reminder that the Blue Jays have an entire country of 37 million people as their market. Keep it in mind the next time they cry poor or act poor as a franchise.

Rob Manfred responds to our report about recent labor negotiations

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Two days ago NBC Sports reported comments Rob Manfred made to players union officials during midterm Collective Bargaining Agreement discussions this past summer. Specifically, sources told NBC Sports that Manfred took an aggressive posture, telling the union that there is “not going to be a deal where we pay you in economics to get labor peace” and “maybe Marvin Miller’s financial system doesn’t work anymore.” Those comments and our report led many to believe that Manfred and baseball’s owners intend to take a hard line with the union between now and when the current CBA expires in December 2021.

Yesterday, at the conclusion of the Owners Meetings, Manfred was asked about our report. Part of his comments were reported in the New York Post last night, but NBC Sports has obtained a full transcript of his entire response:

“One of the things that I never do is talk about what is said in a bargaining room because my experience has been that it usually results in unproductive mischaracterization of the comment. There were four people in that room the day of that conversation: me, [Deputy Commissioner] Dan Halem, Tony Clark and [MLBPA chief negotiator] Bruce Meyer. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it was not Dan Halem and not me that was the source of that story.

“The comments, the way the conversation actually went, as opposed to the way that it was spun: we invited the MLBPA to come forward with suggestions about midterm modifications that might address some of their concerns. In the meeting, Mr. Meyer suggested a series of changes that would turn the Basic Agreement back 50 years. I mean, essentially give back to the union everything we’ve achieved over the last few decades. I asked, in response to his suggestion, what was in that deal for the clubs? He said, ‘Labor peace.’ The way the conversation actually went is I said to him, ‘Labor peace is a mutual benefit. It’s not something that you trade economics against. It is a mutual benefit it keeps the players working and getting paid and it keeps our business forward.’ That’s how the conversation actually went.”

There’s a lot to unpack here. So let’s unpack.

First off, NBC Sports has no comment of our own about Manfred’s speculation about the sources of our story, as we do not talk about or reveal our confidential sources. As for his comment about “the way it was spun,” we stand by our report, thanks.

As for the substance, Manfred’s comment that the union “suggested a series of changes” that “would turn the Basic Agreement back 50 years” is not consistent with what we were told by our sources. Our sources told us that the union, rather than make any specific proposals, simply laid out its version of where things stand at present between owners and the players financially speaking. Revenue, salaries, free agent signings and things of that nature, while noting their dissatisfaction about that state of affairs. Of course, given that Manfred was actually at the meeting and, given that the MLBPA has declined comment on all of this we’ll leave that go.

But even if Manfred is right and the union made a bunch of proposals, is it really plausible that they were, essentially, retrograde proposals via which the union would seek to “turn back the Basic Agreement 50 years?”

In 1969 the players had no free agency. No arbitration. They were subject to the reserve clause which rendered them utterly powerless in every conceivable way. Going back 50 years — or even 30 years, which was when owners openly colluded against free agents and the minimum salary was still five figures — is surely not a thing the union wants to do. Yes, I presume the union would probably like to see a system more akin to that which existed in the relatively recent past, when free agency worked better for them and they received a higher percentage of league revenues, but Manfred’s characterization of the union’s stance, assuming it was not uncharacteristic hyperbole on his part, is not super plausible.

In contrast, I’ll note that Manfred did not comment on the part of our story where we reported that he said “maybe Marvin Miller’s financial system doesn’t work anymore.” We stand by our report that he did, in fact, say that. And we note that if someone was desirous of wanting a baseball economic system that did not have Marvin Miller’s fingerprints all over it, that system would, by definition, look very much like that which existed 50 years ago. Which leads me to wonder if Manfred is merely projecting when it comes to his characterization of the union’s position.

More important than all of that, though, is the final bit he had to say last night. A bit that, actually, is pretty consistent with our reporting on Wednesday.

Again, from Manfred, offering his own account of what he said to Clark and Meyer in negotiations this past summer:

I asked, in response to his suggestion, what was in that deal for the clubs? He said, ‘Labor peace.’ The way the conversation actually went is I said to him, ‘Labor peace is a mutual benefit. It’s not something that you trade economics against. It is a mutual benefit it keeps the players working and getting paid and it keeps our business forward.’

Even if you assume that, and not the way we reported it on Wednesday, was the exact verbiage, I’m not sure how it makes any difference. At bottom, it’s the exact same position: MLB is communicating that it is unwilling to make economic concessions in the face of a threat of a work stoppage. It’s one party to a negotiation telling the other party to the negotiation that even if it exercises the most drastic power it has at its disposal, it will not back down. Or, alternatively, it’s a demand that the one side disarm itself of its most potent weapon before the other side agrees to anything of substance.

That’s certainly something management can do, but it’s not something that it can do and still portray itself as seeking an amicable resolution to what appears will be a contentious negotiation. That’s, by definition, a hardline position.

Given that the general upshot of our report on Wednesday was that MLB was taking a hardline position in early negotiations, I don’t think anything Manfred had to say last night stands as a rebuttal.