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Nationals overcome six-run deficit in ninth inning as Mets’ bullpen melts down

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The Mets and Nationals played one of the wildest games you’ll see this season. It was fairly normal through seven innings, with the Mets leading 4-2. It was even higher scoring than expected, considering Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer started.

In the top of the eighth, the Mets tacked on an insurance run thanks to a Jeff McNeil solo homer, making it a 5-2 game. The Nationals answered back in the bottom half of the eighth, closing the gap to one run when Juan Soto went yard with a runner on base.

Seemingly putting the game out of reach, the Mets hung a five-spot in the top of the ninth. Lefty Roenis Elías served up a leadoff homer to Brandon Nimmo, then gave up a single to Joe Panik — both left-handed hitters. Daniel Hudson replaced Elías, but proceded to walk Todd Frazier, then gave up a two-run single to Jeff McNeil followed by a two-run home run to Pete Alonso. The Nats went into the bottom half of the ninth trailing 10-4. FanGraphs listed their win probability at 0.3 percent.

Paul Sewald began the inning, allowing a leadoff single to Victor Robles. Robles scored on a one-out double from Trea Turner. Turner moved to third on an Asdrúbal Cabrera single. Sewald would face one more hitter, serving up an RBI single to Anthony Rendon to make it 10-6. Lefty Luis Avilán entered, yielding a single to Juan Soto, the only batter he faced, to load the bases. With the game back in high-leverage mode, manager Mickey Callaway brought in Edwin Díaz, who has had a forgettable 2019. He proceeded to fork over a two-run double to Ryan Zimmerman to make it 10-8. The game then ended when Kurt Suzuki did this:

Suzuki’s walk-off three-run homer was not only a big swing in the game, it was huge in the standings. The Nationals were in danger of losing more ground to the Braves, who beat the Blue Jays on Tuesday. They would have fallen to 7.5 games back in the division. The Nats also would have given up some ground in the NL Wild Card race, entering the night holding the first Wild Card by 3.5 games over the Cubs, who lead the Mariners 5-0 as of this writing. The Mets, meanwhile, entered Tuesday trailing the Cubs by four games in the Wild Card. That will likely be five games shortly. They are fighting for the second Wild Card with the Phillies (who won on Tuesday), Diamondbacks (leading), and Brewers (won).

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: