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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 8, Nationals 4: I guess Tuesday’s rip-you-heart-out loss didn’t really rip the Mets’ hearts out. They bounced back just fine last night, getting five solid innings from Zack Wheeler and three and a third scoreless innings to close out the game from the bullpen. In between Wheeler and those innings Jeurys Familia got tagged for three runs, but details, details. Juan Lagares, Robinson Canó and Pete Alonso homered for New York and Jeff McNeill knocked in a couple. Alonso’s homer was his 45th, which leads all of baseball.

Yankees 4, Rangers 1: A bullpen game for the Yankees with six relievers combining to allow one run on seven hits. Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres homered for the Bombers. Fun thing: Rangers starter Lance Lynn thought umpire Will Little was throwing too many balls out of play, so after he did it again Lynn yelled “We’ve got a plane to catch” at him. Little responded professionally but if it was me I probably would’ve shot back “It’s a charter, they’ll wait for ya.”

Reds 8, Phillies 5: Cincinnati built up a 5-0 lead after two innings, blew it by the seventh, but then got homers from José Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen in the seventh and eighth to pull back ahead and win it. Lorenzen had an interesting game: In addition to that homer he pitched two innings — blowing the save by giving up a game-tying homer to Jay Bruce — but vulturing a win — and also appeared in center field to finish the game. It’s the first time a player had pitched, played outfield and homered in a game since Babe Ruth did it in 1921.

Pirates 6, Marlins 5: Maybe Tuesday’s save from José Ureña was not a precursor of future greatness at closer, because here he came into the game to protect a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth and promptly gave up a leadoff homer to pinch-hitter Elias Díaz, walked a guy, gave up a double and then surrendered a two-run single to Bryan Reynolds to give the Pirates a walkoff win. Reynolds, a rookie, is now batting .332 and trails Anthony Rendon, who is hitting .338 in the race of the NL batting title.

Indians 8, White Sox 6: The Indians were barely holding on as the White Sox mounted a rally in the final two frames. What cut the rally short: Oscar Mercado making this catch with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning:

That probably saved the whole game for Cleveland, allowing them to gain a game on the Twins and kept them tied with Oakland for the second Wild Card. Just a spectacular catch. In other news, Franmil Reyes went 2-for-3 with a homer, two driven in and scored three times and Shane Bieber went seven innings, allowing two runs and striking out nine.

Red Sox 6, Twins 2: Mookie Betts had a big game, going 4-for-5 with two homers and five driven in. Eduardo Rodriguez had a nice game too, tossing seven shutout innings and notching his 17th win on the year. The highlight of the game for the Twins: Max Kepler, was listed on the lineup card as the center fielder and Jake Cave was listed on the lineup card as the right fielder began the game in the opposite positions, with Kepler in right and Cave in center. Seems an earlier version of the card had them listed that way and they didn’t get the message that it had been switched before game time. They were where they were supposed to be by the second.

Giants 9, Cardinals 8: Kevin Pillar had four hits, including a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth. Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski also homered for the Giants. Paul Goldschmidt drove in four and Paul DeJong homered for St. Louis in a losing cause. The loss came despite the Giants’ best efforts to give them the game, blowing leads of 4-0 and 7-4 at various times.

Royals 5, Tigers 4: Jorge Soler hit his 40th homer of the season and Hunter Dozier and Alex Gordon had three hits each to give the Royals their fourth straight win. That’s their longest winning streak of the year. Of course their last five games have been against the Orioles and Tigers, who are the only two teams worse than them in the American League, so yeah.

Diamondbacks 4, Padres 1: Rookie right-hander Zac Gallen took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, which he had to, because his hitters were being shut out through six by Chris Paddack and Craig Stammen. Stammen put two on to start the seventh, however, and his relief, Luis Perdomo put on one more before surrendering a grand slam to Ketel Marte which blew it open. The Snakes complete the three-game sweep of the Friars.

Athletics 4, Angels 0: Tanner Roark shut the Halos out into the seventh and three relievers completed the five-hitter. Solo homers from Jurickson Profar and Sean Murphy and a two-run shot from Marcus Semien provided the offense as the A’s keep pace with Cleveland in the Wild Card race.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 3: Hyun-Jin Ryu was once again mortal but at least this time he wasn’t totally shellacked, allowing three runs while working into the fifth. Four relievers, working four and two-thirds shutout innings saved his bacon, however, as did Joc Pederson who hit two homers and drove in three. Pederson has been on a tear. He sat out Tuesday’s game with sore ribs but between Sunday and yesterday he hit five homers and a double in a string of six at-bats. L.A. swept the three-game series against the Rockies, reducing their magic number to four. They also hit 12 homers in the series, allowing them to set the National League record for homers in a season with 250, breaking the 2000 Astros’ record of 249.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.