Stephen Strasburg pitches gem, Anthony Rendon drives in five runs as Nationals force World Series Game 7

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Stephen Strasburg delivered eight strong innings in Game 6 of the World Series with the Nationals on the ropes. Adam Eaton, Juan Soto, and Anthony Rendon contributed home runs in the 7-2 victory.

The offense got going early as the Nationals used small ball to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Justin Verlander. Trea Turner reached on an infield single, though he was initially called out but rightfully given his base upon replay review. Eaton moved Turner to second base with a bunt and Anthony Rendon sent him home with a grounder up the middle.

The Astros bounced right back to plate two runs in the bottom half of the second against Strasburg. George Springer sent a rocket off of the wall in left field for a double, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on José Altuve’s sacrifice fly. Alex Bregman broke the 1-1 tie with a solo homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Bregman carried his bat with him to first base, an act that somehow proved controversial.

Both starters would settle down from there, with the offenses remaining mostly dormant until the fifth inning. Verlander made a couple of mistakes in the top half of the frame, surrendering solo homers to Eaton and Soto. Soto mimicked Bregman, carrying his bat with him to first base and dropping it in front of first base coach Tim Bogar. Verlander saw his way out of the inning, but it would be his last. He allowed the three runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts on 93 pitches. He has still not earned a win in a World Series start, now with seven tries.

Strasburg, meanwhile, found himself speeding towards the end of the game. He worked around a leadoff single in the sixth, then tossed a 1-2-3 seventh and eighth on 16 combined pitches. There was some more umpiring drama in the seventh, click here to read about that. Just for good measure, Anthony Rendon tacked on two insurance runs with a double to right-center field in the top of the ninth, taking all kinds of pressure off of Strasburg.

Strasburg returned to the mound for the top of the ninth at 102 pitches, attempting to become the first pitcher to throw a complete game in the World Series since Johnny Cueto for the Royals in Game 2 of the 2015 Fall Classic. It was not in the cards. Strasburg got Gurriel out on a deflected line drive to Asdrúbal Cabrera. Acting manager Chip Hale decided to bring in lefty Sean Doolittle for the platoon matchup against Yordan Álvarez, ending Strasburg’s outstanding night. Doolittle got Álvarez to line out to left field for the second out. Carlos Correa kept the Astros’ hopes alive with a line drive double off of the left field wall, but Robinson Chirinos popped up to second base to end the game.

Strasburg’s final line: 8 1/3 innings, two runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts on 104 pitches. He now has a 1.46 career postseason ERA in 55 1/3 innings.

With the Nationals’ 7-2 win on Tuesday, the road team has now won the first six games of the World Series. It’s the first time the road team has won the first six games of the World Series. The Nationals will hope to make it seven. The two clubs will play for all the marbles on Wednesday night. Zack Greinke will go for the Astros and Max Scherzer will heroically start for the Nationals.

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

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images
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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: