Getty Images

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

11 Comments

Where we stand:

  • The race for the second National League Wild Card got fun last night as the Mets and Brewers won and the Cubs, Phillies, and Diamondbacks lost. That puts Milwaukee and Chicago in a dead tie in Wild Card position, the Phillies and the Mets are tied at two back and Arizona is two and a half back;
  • The Twins lost and the Indians won, bringing Cleveland to within four of the Twins. They have a three-game series on tap this weekend;
  • The Rays lost and the A’s won, meaning Tampa Bay is a half game in front of Oakland in first Wild Card position and Cleveland is a half game back of Oakland for the second Wild Card.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 3, Phillies 1: Dallas Keuchel was fantastic again — he’s on a hell of a roll right now — allowing one run over six innings. Tyler Flowers‘ three-run homer was all the offense the Braves got and, ultimately, needed.

Orioles 7, Dodgers 3: The Dodgers’ hangover lineup and bullpen played about how you’d expect them to play the day after spraying beer and champagne all over each other. Jonathan Villar hit a three-run homer for the Orioles that proved to be MLB’s record-setting 6,105th homer of the season. Still two and a half weeks to play too. We’ve seen an average of 1.4 home runs per game this year. In 2017 it was 1.26 per game. Back in 2000 — the high point of the PED era — it was 1.17 homers per game.

Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 0: Four Jays pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout, with Trent Thornton doing most of the work, coming into the game in the third inning and blanking the Sox for five. Teoscar Hernández and Rowdy Tellez homered. Boston, who appears to have given up on the season, has lost five straight.

Mets 9, Diamondbacks 0: Steven Matz tossed six shutout innings, three relievers finished the job, Todd Frazier and Jeff McNeil each hit two homers and Brandon Nimmo hit one as the Mets win in a rout. They finished the game — played on 9/11 — with nine runs and eleven hits. I’m too lazy to insert the Richard Dreyfuss/mashed potatoes picture, but just imagine it’s here. I’m not too lazy to link what Hunter S. Thompson wrote over at ESPN2 on the night of 9/11/01, which for my money was about as dead damn spot-on a piece as anyone wrote at the time and holds true 18 years later. Yeah, it was on a sports site. The Good Doctor did not stick to sports even though he came up as a sports writer and, late in life, once again fancied himself a sports writer, God bless him.

Brewers 7, Marlins 5: Tied at five in the top of the ninth until Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer to put Milwaukee over. It was his second two-run shot of the evening because, apparently, everyone hits two homers in game these days. The Brewers are keeping themselves in the playoff hunt even without Christian Yelich. Which makes me wonder what happens if they do beat out the Cubs for the Wild Card. Does that cause Yelich to actually lose MVP votes? Would the voters who use the “how screwed would the team be without him” reasoning actually be more likely to throw their support to Yelich if Milwaukee doesn’t make the postseason, on the basis that his key value was proven? I don’t have an MVP vote because the BBWAA is afraid of me, but if I did I don’t think I’d make it that complicated.

Nationals 6, Twins 2: Stephen Strasburg picks up his 17th win of the year after going six and allowing two in a workmanlike performance. Three shutout innings from the Nationals’ pen was just as impressive given how three innings of Nationals relief pitching is capable of going. Ryan Zimmerman and Trea Turner homered for the Nats. Zimmerman drove in three. Zimmerman leads the Nats in almost every hitting category, all-time. Sometimes a guy like that will get the nickname “Mr. [team name].” I don’t know if we can call him “Mr. National” though, because that sounds like a lame superhero name. Maybe not a mainstream superhero but perhaps one from one of those “imagine if superheroes were real” series in which the heroes were given sort of generic washes on broader hero archetypes. Sort of like how Homelander in “The Boys” is Superman gone wrong or what have you. “Mr. National” could be a riff on evil Captain America.  Coming this fall, only on Netflix.

Rangers 10, Rays 9: The Rangers led 7-2 after the first inning but blew that by the fourth to trail 8-7. In the seventh Rougned Odor came up and popped a three-run homer to put Texas back on top for good. Fifteen pitchers in a 10-9 September game that lasts over four hours is basically the platonic ideal of “Games Craig Hates to Even Think About Let Alone Recap” and for that reason I’m stopping now.

Indians 4, Angels 3: Carlos Santana homered in the first, Kevin Plawecki knocked in a run with a ground rule double in the second and then two batters later Francisco Lindor hit a homer scoring both himself and Plawecki. That was it for the Indians’ scoring but that’s all they needed as seven Cleveland pitchers combined to give up only three runs on seven hits. One of those relievers was Carlos Carrasco, who picked up the win.

Royals 8, White Sox 6: Jorge Soler hit two homers and had four hits in all. It was the third time this year Soler has homered more than once in a game. Adalberto Mondesí, Bubba Starling and Ryan O'Hearn also all went deep for Kansas City. Eloy Jiménez homered and drove in four runs for the Chisox.

Athletics 5, Astros 3: I see these guys decided to bring pitchers to the ballpark last night. Good choice for once. One of the pitchers the A’s brought was Jesús Luzardo, who made his big league debut and looked pretty good doing it, allowing one run in three innings in relief, with his only mistake a gopher ball to Martín Maldonado. Otherwise it was nasty stuff and swings and misses. He’s gonna be a good one. In other news, Sean Murphy and Marcus Semien homered. Astros starter José Urquidy was sharp, striking out ten in five innings, but the Astros’ bullpen wasn’t.

Rockies 2, Cardinals 1: These teams have combined to score a grand total of six runs in two games in Coors Field this week. The rest of baseball is playing on the moon but these guys are in the most offense-friendly ballpark in the history of the world and they’re cosplaying like it’s 1968. What a wild game baseball can be sometimes. Antonio Senzatela allowed one run over six and Ian Desmond hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth to give the Rockies the game. Afterwards they all went back home and watched “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Green Acres.” Those who stayed awake watched “Hawaii Five-O.” Wednesdays on CBS were lit back then. At least until The Rural Purge.

Pirates 6, Giants 3: You know your season is going well when the AP gamer puts a sentence like “Felipe Vazquez earned his 27th save two days after punching Kyle Crick in the clubhouse,” up high. I guess you go with what you got. It’s hard to write up a summary of a game involving two teams playing out the string who combined to use 36 players, none of whom had a stat line good enough to justify a lede. I’m so damn lucky I don’t have to write straight gamers and can, instead, talk about the 1968-69 network TV schedule. For example, I can note how on Thursday nights ABC ran a show called “The Ugliest Girl in Town” as the lead-in for “The Flying Nun,” “Bewitched,” and “That Girl.” You know some ABC exec was proud of himself for his “Girlie Thursdays” or whatever the hell someone might’ve called it in 1968.

I am fairly well-versed in Silver Age TV for a guy who didn’t live through it, but I had never heard of “The Ugliest Girl in Town.” Having read the synopsis for it, though, I now understand why I had never heard of it. Get a load of this:

Timothy Blair is a Hollywood talent agent. He falls in love with Julie Renfield, a British actress who is visiting the United States to do a movie. After the movie is finished, she returns to England. To help his brother Gene complete a photography assignment, Timothy dresses as a hippie and poses for a photo shoot. The photos are sent to a modeling agent in England who assumes they are of a woman. He offers “her” a job.

Knowing this would be the only chance to go to Great Britain and be with Julie, Timothy accepts and dubs himself “Timmie”. Timothy has two weeks of vacation to spend as much time with Julie as he can, but when he is about to leave with his brother, Gene loses £11,000 gambling. This, coupled with the fact that the talent agent discovers the brothers’ ruse and demands to recoup his investment, means Timothy has to continue being Timmie for a while longer.

Woof.

The Wikipedia page has this promo of the lead actor, Peter Kastner, as “Tim” and “Timmie”:

The show lasted 20 episodes but only 17 aired. I can’t for the life of me imagine why. A little over a decade later, of course, Tom Hanks would be propelled to stardom in “Bosom Buddies,” which was really the same riff, so what the hell do I know? Hollywood is messed up, man.

Padres 4, Cubs 0: Chris Paddack was strong, tossing six shutout innings and striking out seven. Cubs batters only mustered three hits in all in the whole dang game. Manuel Margot homered for the Friars.

Mariners 5, Reds 3: Sonny Gray was tossing a no-hitter into the seventh but rookie Kyle Lewis broke it up with a three-run homer, turning Gray’s would-be no-no into a loss. Lewis has now played two big league games and has homered in both of ’em. The M’s would tack on two more in the eighth.

Yankees vs. Tigers — POSTPONED: I usually put rain-related songs on postponements, but I’m inspired to do something else here:

Astros take their third bite at the apple in response to Assistant GM Brandon Taubman’s comments

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last night Sports Illustrated reported that, following the Houston Astros’ Game 6 victory over the Yankees on Saturday night, Astros Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman shouted at a group of three female reporters, “Thank god we got [Roberto] Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!” Taubman reportedly repeated the phrase half a dozen times. The Sports Illustrated report was later corroborated by no less than four reporters apart from the Sports Illustrated reporter who were in the clubhouse and witnessed the incident.

The comments and their context strongly suggested that Taubman was, at best, making light of the criticism the Astros received for trading for Osuna following his domestic violence suspension resulting from very serious domestic violence charges lodged against him in 2018. To some it smacked of Taubman taking something of a victory lap over the Astros’ controversial — and poorly handled — acquisition of Osuna and came off as extraordinarily insensitive and abjectly tone deaf.

The Astros originally declined comment before the report was published. Late last night, after the story went live and once it became apparent that it cast Taubman in a bad light, they issued an angry and defensive statement, calling the Sports Illustrated article “misleading and completely irresponsible.” Again, despite the fact that the report was corroborated by multiple eyewitnesses. The team’s statement was itself then subjected to intense criticism today.

The Astros are now taking their third bite at the apple, releasing the following statements:

It’s worth noting that nowhere here do the Astros apologize or even reference last night’s statement which, in essence, called Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein a liar. A statement which they no doubt would’ve let be the last word if it hadn’t been met with such pushback. Which suggests that the above statements — of the “I’m sorry if anyone was offended” non-apology apology variety — are more about damage control than sincerity.

It’s also worth noting that Taubman’s comment takes the oh-so-common tack of referencing the fact that he is a “husband and a father,” which is irrelevant given that at issue were his acts and words, not his identity. We are not what we believe ourselves to be in our heart of hearts. We are what we do. We are how we treat one another. That’s all that matters. Attempts to deflect from that basic fact of humanity are, just that, deflections. And patronizing ones at that. Taubman’s statement would’ve been way better if it had stopped after the second sentence.

As for owner Jim Crane’s statement, it continues the Astros’ tack of wanting to have it both ways. There is no rule that says they could not have traded for Roberto Osuna. What made the whole episode unseemly, however, is how they claimed to have a “zero tolerance” policy against domestic violence and claimed not to be breaking it when they clearly did so because, hey, Osuna was cheaply had. Which means that they actually have a “some tolerance” policy — as do a lot of teams — but they wanted to act like they were better than that and deflect criticism from those who took issue. Here again, Crane wants it both ways by using what should be a straight apology for one of his top employees’ boorish behavior as an opportunity to once again claim that they are better than they truly are when it comes to domestic violence.

If you don’t have to care about an issue and you, in fact, don’t care, well, fine. You may catch hell from people for that stance, but you can do what you want. If, however, you want credit for being on top of an issue, do the work to earn it. If you fall short of your or society’s expectations, apologize and try to do better. What you cannot do is fail and then try to use your failure as a means of turning the tables on those who criticize you while claiming that, actually, you’re really really good on the topic.

Major League Baseball has also weighed in:

“Domestic violence is extraordinarily serious and everyone in baseball must use care to not engage in any behavior — whether intentional or not — that could be construed as minimizing the egregiousness of an act of domestic violence.  We became aware of this incident through the Sports Illustrated article.  The Astros have disputed Sports Illustrated’s characterization of the incident.  MLB will interview those involved before commenting further.”

The comment came out at almost the exact same time the Astros’ comments were released, which suggests to me that they were coordinated. Which, hey, they’re all trying to end the conversation about this before the first pitch of tonight’s Game 1. I will not hold my breath for anything to come of MLB’s “interviews” of those involved.

As for the Astros, here is some free advice: “I. Am. Sorry. I. Was. Wrong. I. Should. Not. Have. Done/Said. That.”

Apologies are easy. We’re taught how to do them when we’re two years-old. Only when we start thinking we’re better than everyone do we start qualifying them to the skies to the point where they lose all meaning