July 31, 2020

G8: Yankees 5, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 001 000 000 - 1  5  0
Yankees - 002 100 02x - 5  9  1
The Yankees hit three home runs on Friday night, two off starter Ryan Weber (3.1-4-3-4-0, 74) and one off Colten Brewer.

The Red Sox's lone run also came via a dong, the first of the year from Michael Chavis. It gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead, an advantage that turned out to be fleeting.

Weber, who had walked two Yankees in the second but escaped paying for it, gave up a leadoff single to DJ LeMahieu in the third. Aaron Judge hit a first-pitch cheapo home run to right and New York led 2-1. Gio Urshela took Weber deep to open the fourth.

Lurch is hitting .250, with no walks and 10 strikeouts in six games. That's a 270-strikeout pace for a full season, which would obliterate the all-time record of 223. He's whiffing in nearly 40% of his trips to the plate, his worst percentage since his first half-season in the bigs, back in 2016. Before today's game, he was swinging at 31.1% of the pitches outside the strike zone, again, his worst ratio since 2016 (in the last three years, he has never been over 25%). His contact percentage is only 53.8%, easily the worst of his career (all other seasons, he has been over 60%). ... But, okay, whatever you say, New York Post. He's unstoppable.

The Yankees had someone on base in every inning. Phillips Valdez stranded a runner at third in the fifth and men at the corners in the sixth. Austin Brice's 1-0 pitch to Giancarlo Stanton in the seventh grazed a thread on Stanton's pants, but the inning ended on a strikeout-caught-stealing with Aaron Hicks at the dish. Later on, Brewer gave up a two-run homer to Brett Gardner, who had been 0-for-12 before that at-bat.

Jere Smith (NESN Non-Appreciation Society, membership card #0002) related NESN's "mini-dumpster fire of a call" on the Stanton HBP in the game thread. Dave O'Brien's initial reaction was "right past everybody". Plate umpire Chad Whitson visually and audibly indicated Stanton was hit, but O'Brien, Jerry Remy, and Dennis Eckersley didn't see it (neither did Stanton, initially). The NESN Trio tell us Stanton "thought it hit him" and they wondered "Did he get hit?" All three believe Whitson's call was No HBP, which everyone watching at home knows is wrong. NESN then shows us the Red Sox dugout. Someone is on the phone. O'Brien: "Red Sox might wanna take a look at this." What? If OB thinks Stanton was not hit by the pitch, why would he think the Red Sox would ask for a challenge? Does he think Ron Roenicke would argue "Yes, he was hit" and demand the Yankees get a free base runner? Seriously, OB, do you ever listen to yourself? There was no challenge (imagine that!), NESN cuts back to the field; Stanton is on first base; O'Brien tells us what we're seeing: "So, Stanton on" ... and the game continues. ... NESN Being NESN.

After the Yankees took a 2-1 lead, the Red Sox threatened to grab it back. Jordan Montgomery (5.2-5-1-1-4, 81) hit Rafael Devers, allowed a single to Xander Bogaerts, and (after an out) committed a throwing error on Alex Verdugo's grounder. The bases were loaded, but Chavis (who had homered in the previous inning) grounded into a double play.

The Red Sox went in order in the fifth and another double play erased a leadoff walk n the sixth. (Boston's third inning also ended on a double play when J.D. Martinez lined out to right and Judge doubled Kevin Pillar off first base.)

Chad Green struck out four of the six Red Sox batters he faced from the mid-sixth into the eighth. Plate umpire Whitson rang up Boston's leadoff batter in the eighth, Jose Peraza on an outside pitch.

In the ninth, Jonathan Holder struck out Devers and walked Bogaerts. It was a 12-pitch walk, featuring seven foul balls from Zander: bbfcfffffbfb. Zack Britton started warming up, just in case. Holder threw seven pitches to Christian Vázquez, who hacked at a full-count pitch that was nearly on the ground and hit into a fielder's choice (I would have preferred the walk). Whitson blew another call in the Yankees' favor with Alex Verdugo at the plate (because he was sick of this game and had things to do, dammit). Verdugo grounded out to shortstop, freeing Whitson for the evening. I doubt he had an optometrist's appointment.
Ryan Weber / Jordan Montgomery
Pillar, RF
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, LF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
Jordan Montgomery is making his 2020 debut, after recovering from TJ surgery.

Saturday: Zack Godley / Masahiro Tanaka
Sunday: TK / James Paxton

           W  L   GB   RS  RA  DIFF
Yankees    4  1  ---   26  21   + 5
Rays       4  3  1.0   38  28   +10
Red Sox    3  4  2.0   36  38   - 2
Blue Jays  3  4  2.0   25  26   - 1
Orioles    2  3  2.0   26  36   -11
MLB Ranking
Average:  Red Sox  .276  (#1) - Yankees  .223  (#21)
On-Base:  Red Sox  .336  (#8) - Yankees  .313  (#14)
Slugging: Red Sox  .447  (#5) - Yankees  .433   (#8)
OPS:      Red Sox  .783  (#6) - Yankees  .746  (#10)
ERA:      Red Sox  5.29 (#22) - Yankees  4.73  (#19)
WHIP:     Red Sox 1.460 (#25) - Yankees 1.150   (#8)

Manfred Warns Union That 2020 Season Could Be Shut Down As Early As This Monday (If Positive Tests Increase)

Commissioner Rob Manfred says the 2020 baseball season could be shut down as soon as Monday, August 3, if players don't "do a better job of managing the coronavirus", according to reports of Manfred's phone call with Players Association executive director Tony Clark.

Leave it to Manfred to blame the union while giving the impression that he believes (or hopes) the extremely thick and dark clouds hovering over baseball will suddenly go away and the sun will come out and every day will be beautiful. Manfred's attitude is not unlike another incompetent guy who should not have been put in charge of anything, who wastes his time focusing on all the wrong things, and does nothing right. That other guy still believes the virus is going to vanish on its own one day, allowing him to receive all the praise and credit (but he cannot understand why it's taking so long).

Manfred might be correct in this case. Scott Miller of CBS Sports tweets that an MLB investigation
found the Marlins were very lapse in following protocols during Atlanta trip last weekend, players going out, players in hotel bar, etc. Lots of MLB people very unhappy with Miami
Jeff Passan, ESPN, July 31, 2020 (4:55 ET):
The league and players recognize the coming days are a critical juncture following an outbreak among the Miami Marlins in which 18 players and two coaches have tested positive for COVID-19. Two positive tests by St. Louis Cardinals players on Friday exacerbated concerns inside the sport about the presence of the coronavirus and whether the jointly agreed-upon protocols are being followed properly to prevent outbreaks similar to Miami's.

Should another outbreak materialize, Manfred, who has the power to shut down the season, could move in that direction. Multiple players briefed on the call fear the season could be shut down as soon as Monday if positive tests jump or if players continue not to strictly abide by the league's protocols.

State and local governments have pressured baseball about players skirting the mandates outlined in the league's 113-page operations manual, sources told ESPN. Broadcasts that have shown players high-fiving, spitting and not wearing masks have left government officials wondering how seriously players are taking the protocols, sources said.

Further, there is concern about off-the-field choices, with one high-ranking official saying: "There are some bad decisions being made."

The Cardinals' game against the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed Friday and rescheduled to a doubleheader Sunday. Already, the Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, who last played Miami on Sunday, were missing scheduled games, leaving 20% of the league's Friday slate empty.

Schadenfreude 269 (A Continuing Series)

                   PA  AB  R  H  2B  HR RBI  TB  BB   K   AVG   OBP    SLG    OPS  OPS+  ETC.
Gary Sánchez       16  15  0  0   0   0   0   0   0  10  .000  .063   .000   .063   -80  1 PB, 1-of-2 CS
Christian Vázquez  20  19  5  8   1   4   8  21   1   3  .421  .450  1.105  1.555   312  0 PB, 2-of-5 CS
Vázquez's 1.105 slugging percentage leads all MLB players.

Vázquez's 4 home runs is the most among all MLB players (tied with Toronto's Teoscar Hernández).
Brett Gardner:  0-for-11 (.000), 7 strikeouts
Gio Urshela:    2-for-15 (.133), 0 RBI
Gleyber Torres: 3-for-15 (.200)
Aaron Hicks:    3-for-14 (.214)
Luke Voit:      3-for-14 (.214), 6 strikeouts


Phillies, Marlins, Cardinals Report Positives Tests; More Games Postponed; Hitchin' A Ride: Infected Marlins To Take 18-Hour Bus Ride

Two positives SARS-CoV-2 tests on the Cardinals have forced the postponement of tonight's Cardinals-Brewers game (Milwaukee's home opener). It has been rescheduled as part of a Sunday doubleheader. Tomorrow's game is still on the schedule.

Is MLB learning anything? That strategy was a disaster for the Marlins (playing the next day or waiting one day is the same thing, virus-wise), who reported yet another positive test, bringing the team's total to 20 (18 players and two staff members; 18 players is 60% of the 30-man roster). It will not be surprising if the Cardinals have additional positive tests tomorrow or Sunday or next week (if they play this weekend).

The Phillies reported a second positive test and have cancelled their next three games (Saturday doubleheader and Sunday game) against the Blue Jays. The Phillies have not played a game since last Sunday. If they play their next scheduled game (Monday in New York against the Yankees), it will be after seven days off.

The Blue Jays are also of until Monday. They plan to stay in Washington and work out at Nationals Park over the weekend and fly to Atlanta on Sunday night.

The Nationals' games in Miami tonight and this weekend have been postponed. Washington hosts the Mets next Tuesday (after four days off).

The Marlins are going to send their 20 infected employees (currently quarantined at a hotel in Philadelphia) back to Miami on a bus. Craig Calcaterra (NBC Sports):
It's about an 18 hour drive to Miami from Philadelphia. And no, I have no idea how you get someone to volunteer to drive a bus with a dozen and a [half] people infected with an outrageously contagious, untreatable and incurable disease 1,200 miles, but I have to assume there is some danger pay involved. Maybe the upside to this is that someone could write a pretty spiffy screenplay out of this ... Anyway, in case you think that the 2020 baseball season has not turned dystopian enough, we are about to have plague ships full of baseball players roaming the eastern seaboard.
From The Dept. Of "You Do X, So You're Forbidden To Have An Opinion About Y":

July 30, 2020

G7: Red Sox 4, Mets 2

Red Sox - 010 200 001 - 4  9  2
Mets    - 002 000 000 - 2  5  1
José Peraza had the At-Bat Of The Game on Thursday night — even though it was not an official at-bat. The Red Sox led 3-2 and had the bases loaded, with one out in the top of the ninth against Edwin Diaz, who already had thrown 25 pitches to the first four batters.

Diaz threw nine pitches to Alex Verdugo (walk), eight to Michael Chavis (single), four to Andrew Benintendi (walk), and four to pinch-hitter Rafael Devers (strikeout). Peraza ended up seeing 10 pitches, with only one of them clocked at under 97 mph.

Peraza (1-for-4 at that point) took an inside fastball (99) for strike one. Diaz threw two more fastballs (97, 100), both outside. His 2-1 pitch was up and in (98). Peraza backed away, but the ball hit both the bat and his right hand. It was ruled a foul ball as the Boston trainer came out to allow Peraza a couple of minutes to let the pain subside.

When play resumed, Diaz came down the middle with another fastball (99) and Peraza fouled it off. Peraza also fouled off a low fastball (99) and a high-outside fastball (99). Diaz's eighth pitch was yet another fastball (98), but it was low for ball 3. Peraza fought off another high, inside fastball (98). On pitch #10, Diaz changed speeds and threw a slider (90), but it was up and in, nowhere close to the zone. Peraza walked, forcing in Alex Verdugo (2-for-3, and a walk to start the inning) with the Red Sox's fourth run.

Brandon Workman got through the ninth with a minimum of fuss, allowing a one-out single before striking out the next two Mets. Boston is now 3-4, having moved tonight from fifth place to a tie for third. The Red Sox's next three games are against the Yankees (4-1) in the Bronx. The Rays (4-3, but with the division's best run differential) are in second place.

Christian Vázquez is showing that last season's power surge was not a fluke. (He hit 23 homers, far surpassing his previous season-high of five.) He already has four dongs this season, as he hit two off Steven Matz (5.1-8-3-2-3, 104) tonight, both to left field. Vázquez is the second Red Sox catcher to hit 4+ home runs in the first seven games of a season, joining Carlton Fisk, who hit five in 1973; after hitting two on Opening Day (against the MFY), Pudge did not connect again until G6 (once) and G7 (twice).

Martín Pérez (5.2-2-2-4-5, 88) turned in a much better start than his previous outing, though the third inning was not smooth. With a 1-0 lead, Pérez walked Wilson Ramos and hit Brandon Nimmo, never a good way to start an inning and certainly not the way to handle the bottom two batters in a lineup. Amed Rosario grounded to third. Peraza backed up and stepped on the bag for the force, but his throw to first was comically high, sailing far over everyone. So there was one out, but runners at first and third. Pérez missed inside four times to Pete Alonso, walking him and loading the bases. Jeff McNeill lined a 2-2 pitch to left, scoring two runs, and giving the Mets the lead. Pérez then gathered his wits, getting a fly to center and a strikeout.

Pérez needed 28 pitches in that inning, after throwing a combined 28 in the first two frames. He breezed through the next two innings, throwing seven and eight pitches, respectively, with 13 strikes in his 15 pitches. PC by inning: 14-14-28 7-8-17.

Immediately after the Mets took that 2-1 lead, Xander Bogaerts singled and Vazquez homered to left, the ball falling just out of JD Davis's leaping reach.

Matt Barnes nearly gave the game away in the eighth. He hit Alonso to start the inning and after a line out to left, Davis dropped a single into short center, with Alonso racing to third. Ryan Cordell ran for Davis. Barnes fell behind Michael Conforto 3-1, but got him to chase an outside curve and foul off a low curve. Barnes fanned him on a 96 mph fastball. Barnes worked Yoenis Céspedes low in the zone (or below the zone), falling behind 2-1 before getting to a full count (Cordell stole second on ball 3). Céspedes fouled off two more low pitches before watching a high fastball for ball 4. Andres Gimenez was an easier project for Barnes. Ball, called strike , ball, and (on his 37th pitch of the inning) a routine groundout to first. 3 LOB.
Martín Pérez / Steven Matz
Peraza, 3B
Pillar, CF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Vázquez, CC
Verdugo, RF
Chavis, 1B
Benintendi, LF
Araúz, 2B

The Players Union Drops To Manfred's Level Of Stupidity And Disregard For Baseball: All Doubleheader Games Will Be 7 Innings (Starting Saturday)

Pictured: Clown 1 and Clown 2.

... because science tells us the virus is much more contagious from the eighth inning on.

Well, it turns out it's not only Commissioner Rob Manfred who has an insatiable desire to turn baseball into an utter joke. MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark brought forth a proposal that all doubleheader games this season be reduced to seven innings, and MLB agreed.

While there are no planned doubleheaders on the schedule, making up postponed games because of current (and, no doubt, future) SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks and bad weather and probably locusts and frogs falling from the sky, there will be several twinbills over the next two months.

And, yes ... the Extra Inning Bullshit ("EIB") will start in the eighth inning of those games.

I can definitely see the EIB and seven-inning DHs becoming permanent. This is how it starts.


Let's see how the Chances Of MLB Driving Me Away From Baseball Forever Index is doing . . . It has increased to 30%.

Two Phillies Test Positive, All Activity At Home Park Stopped "Until Further Notice"

Looks like the Phillies were not spared after all.

A coach and a member of Philadelphia's clubhouse staff have both tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, which means all activity at Citizens Bank Park has been stopped "until further notice". Phillies center fielder Andrew McCutchen: "This really sucks."

The Phillies have canceled their weekend series against the Blue Jays. The Jays will stay in Washington this weekend after finishing a series with the Nationals tomorrow.

The Marlins reported yet another positive test, raising the team's total to 17 players and two coaches. (Seeing as it's Florida, has anyone suggested drinking demon semen smoothies?) While they wait for their schedule to resume, the Marlins are figuring out how to fill their half-empty roster.

Anyway, if you're in the area and have a glove and a face mask, perhaps you should give Capt. Intangibles a call.
The Union is getting feedback from players about having doubleheaders of only seven innings or nine innings for the opener and seven for the second game. A proposal might be made by Saturday (or the Union might come to its senses and drop the idea).

Angels manager Joe Maddon:
Right now, I don't think it's necessary based on how this season has been set up. If the doubleheaders were to pile up for whatever reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan. ... The sixth inning, the fifth inning play differently based on when the game is supposed to conclude. ... I get it from the perspective of expediency, if it's necessary. ... I'm not going to speak badly of any kind of suggestion right now that people believe is going to help us get through the season, get through the playoffs and conclude them.
Really? Not speak badly of any suggestion? Hell, why don't we just end the game as soon as one team scores? That will make for shorter games. ... Boom! Leadoff dong! Time of game: 0:01.
Oh, no! We've lost Jayson Stark!
"I love the new extra-inning rule!"

MLB's 2020 Protocol (113 Pages) Contains No Specifics Regarding Handling A Virus Outbreak (How Is That Possible?); Union Asks Players To Consider Seven-Inning Games For DHs

Another Marlins player has tested positive, Major League Baseball is encouraging (but not ordering) players not to leave hotels in road cities except for games, mandating the use of surgical masks instead of cloth masks during travel, and requiring every team to travel with a compliance officer who ensures players and staff properly follow the league's protocol, which would seem to contradict MLB's mere "encouragement" to not wander around in public before or after games. 

ESPN's Jeff Passan writes
Nowhere does the 113-page protocol that governs the 2020 season explicitly address how the league would handle a coronavirus outbreak, let alone one the magnitude of the Marlins'. It offers neither a threshold of cases to shut down a team nor a scenario that would cause a pause in the season. For a document as detailed and pedantic as MLB's operations manual, the lack of specificity on literally the entire reason for its existence -- the presence of a global pandemic -- has been a glaring omission, multiple general managers said leading up to the season. 

It also was intentional, with the league seeking flexibility in its actions. The virus' infiltration of the Marlins this week proved seminal, finally putting a number on the lowest figure baseball is willing to stomach without shutting down operations beyond the heart of an outbreak: 18 positive tests, including 16 players -- 48% of those traveling with the team. 

From the moment MLB committed to holding its season outside of a bubble and sending hundreds of people on the road every day, this was, if not inevitable, then at least expected. And yet the volume of Marlins personnel with COVID-19 still shook league officials who had hoped outbreaks would top off at half that size. For all the rigor MLB took with its protocol, the virus beat it in one place on the season's first weekend

The fallout is only beginning. ... This is pandemic baseball: A schedule is a schedule until it's not. ... As much as Manfred stood behind the protocol Monday ... here is the truth: The rules meant to protect players and keep them safe could not prevent a spectacular outbreak. ... 
Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic reports:
Sources: Union is asking players to consider rules adjustments to maximize their health, according to a memo sent today. On doubleheaders, consideration is a 9-inning & 7-inning game or two 7-inning games. On rosters, question is whether to extend 30-man limit for additional time.
Because the virus really only gets busy in the eighth inning?

Christ. Please cancel the season before shortening games to seven innings. Please.

July 29, 2020

G6: Red Sox 6, Mets 5

Red Sox - 000 200 130 - 6  8  0
Mets    - 100 011 011 - 5 15  0
Soon enough, we'll be forced to endure the asinine rule of the Extra Inning Runner, but we were spared on Wednesday night. The Red Sox held on and (stepped right up and) beat the Mets 6-5, snapping a four-game losing streak and gaining a game on the first-place Rays (now 2 GB).

However, Brandon Workman seemed to put his own new rule into effect for the ninth inning: Let the opposing team begin with runners at first and second (by walking them). Boston held a 6-4 lead and after BW's two BBs, Pete Alonso blooped a single over Mitch Moreland at first, his fourth hit of the game, loading the bases.

Workman fell behind Michael Conforto 2-0, prompting bad thoughts, but he rallied and, after two fouls, struck him out looking. Christian Vázquez fired down to third, hoping to catch Brandon Nimmo by surprise. Rafael Devers blocked the low throw. That has always seemed like a risky move when the game is on the line. JD Davis grounded to the left side. Devers took four steps to his left, dove, spun, and threw from his knees. His peg was accurate, thankfully, but Davis beat out the hit easily and it was 6-5.

Yoenis Céspedes had crunched a solo home run to left in his previous at-bat (turning on Matt Barnes's first pitch of the eighth). Again, Workman spotted a Mets batter two balls, but Céspedes helped out by swinging at two pitches near the dirt, and going down on strikes. Robinson Canó batted with the potential wining run at second. He took a strike and then lofted a pitch over second base towards the outfield. Shortstop Jose Peraza glided out and caught the floater with little difficulty.

Boston's opponents scored first for the fifth straight game. With one out in the opening frame, Nathan Eovaldi (5-8-2-1-4, 89) gave up three hits on three pitches, as Jeff McNeil, Alonso, and Conforto each singled on the first pitch. Dominic Smith grounded out first-to-shortstop, beating the relay as a run scored. The Red Sox have been outscored 13-1 in the first two innings this season.

The Red Sox actually took a lead (!) in the fourth. Devers doubled to left and Mitch Moreland doubled to deep center. It was M. Two-Bags's 200th career two-bagger and it drove in the first run against Jacob deGrom (6-3-2-1-4, 88) in 31.1 innings, dating back to last September. It also tied the game. Moreland came around (slowly) on two wild pitches by deGrom. (Hey, who cares how the runs score?) Boston did not have the lead for long, however. Nimmo homered in the fifth and Andrés Giménez's triple over Jackie Bradley's head scored Canó in the sixth.

After Moreland's double, deGrom retired the next eight batters, but Seth Lugo was on the mound for the seventh. Vázquez banged a solo dong to left, tying the contest once again, 3-3. And the Red Sox batted around in the eighth. Facing Justin Wilson, pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar singled and pinch-hitter Xander Bogaerts looked at four balls. Jonathan Arauz ran for Zander and Andrew Benintendi bunted the runners to second and third. The Mets passed J.D. Martinez to face Devers (who had started the season 0-for-11, but was 5-for-13 (.385) since). The move paid off, as Devers fanned for the second out. Moreland chopped a roller along the third base line. McNeill ran in and grabbed it, but could not hold on to the ball. One run scored. Vázquez stung a hard grounder to right; Alonso dove to his left, but it was well past him. Two runs scored. Wilson walked Alex Verdugo, reloading the bases. Dellin Betances was called in and he struck out Peraza.

So Boston led 6-3, but Céspedes cut that to 6-4 before the white-knuckle ninth.

The Red Sox designated catcher Jonathan Lucroy for assignment today and called up right-handed pitcher Chris Mazza, who is 30 years old and will likely be used for multiple innings out of the bullpen. Mazza's only big league experience is nine relief appearances (16.1 innings) with the Mets last season.
Nathan Eovaldi / Jacob deGrom
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, RF
Peraza, 2B
Bradley, CF
Lin, SS
Kevin Pillar thought the lack of atmosphere at Fenway Park might be having an effect on the Red Sox:
I'd be lying if I said that it's not different. ... [Y]ou're just so accustomed to the unique atmosphere that this stadium brings — the fans, the energy in the ballpark. It's taken some guys a little bit of time to adjust to that. I think getting out on the road might be good for this team. ... The time for making excuses is over. This is baseball in 2020.
I don't doubt it's an odd feeling playing in a quiet Fenway Park, but (a) the Orioles and Mets were doing the same thing and (b) it will be quiet in all of the road parks, too.

Manager Ron Roenicke loves all the information he's receiving from the analytics department (even if it's not translating into wins just yet):
We want as much information as we can get. So if I have all this information on the matchups, on what they've done historically, it helps me to make a decision. If the guy is hot does that play into it? Yes. All of these things play into it. They never send me down a lineup. ... I wish I would have had this information when I first started coaching. The more information we can get the better off we are.
Senior vice president and assistant general manager Zack Scott:
One of the reports we provide to him is this kind of an outlook of probable starters a week or so out. It shows each probable starter and our players for each position. ... It's a tool to help him think through if he wants to give a guy a day, or when's the right time to play this guy that's normally on the bench. ... It's based on a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of both the pitcher and the hitter ... I think that's the one he's responded to very positively ...
Scott said the decision to bat J.D. Martinez in the #2 spot was Roenicke's idea:
If you're kind of picking your spots on what you think might be most impactful, lineup order isn't it. If it was like putting J.D. eighth, then yeah, that'd be a problem. But second versus fourth, there are studies on this. Batting third, which a lot of people think your best hitters bat third, well, that guy comes up with two outs and the bases empty more than anyone because of the first inning. So it's not optimizing RBI opportunities. A guy like J.D., you could hit him second or fourth but really those are the two best spots for him because he also gets on base a lot. He drives in runs. Second gets him more at-bats over the long haul.
Road Trip: 2 games at Mets, 3 at Yankees, day off, 2 at Rays, day off. Back at Fenway on Friday, August 7.

Donald Trump Invented A Story Of The Yankees Inviting Him To Throw Out A First Pitch in August Because He Was Jealous Of Dr. Fauci Throwing Out A Pitch On Opening Day

The New York Yankees never extended an invitation to Donald Trump this season to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Not on August 15 (the date announced by Trump last Thursday evening) or any other date.

Trump invented this imaginary invitation because he was jealous that Dr. Anthony Fauci was throwing out the first pitch at Nationals Park before Thursday night's Yankees-Nationals season-opener.

Yesterday, Trump mused out loud about why Fauci's approval ratings are so much higher than his when it comes to information about COVID-19. Several months ago, annoyed at the good press Fauci had been receiving, Trump stopped inviting him to the Coronavirus Task Force press briefings. (And then, after being ridiculed for suggesting Americans inject bleach into their lungs to fight the virus, Trump stopped the briefings altogether.)

When questions about the Yankees' invitation arose, Trump suddenly canceled his appearance via Twitter, claiming he was far too busy to spend a few minutes at the ball park three weeks in the future.

You don't have to be a very stable genius to understand that Trump, a malignant narcissist and sociopath who cannot stand competing for media attention with anyone, was consumed with jealousy that Fauci was throwing out a first pitch and he was not. (Indeed, Trump has not thrown out a pitch at any baseball game as president. He appears in public only at his rallies, because he knows he will be booed.)

Finally, about an hour before Fauci walked to the Nationals Park mound, Trump couldn't stand it any longer and lied to the press, acting like an ignored four-year-old: "I got an invitation, too!"
Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees. And he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I'm doing that on August 15 at Yankee Stadium.
As the New York Times reported:
There was one problem: Mr. Trump had not actually been invited on that day by the Yankees, according to one person with knowledge of Mr. Trump's schedule. His announcement surprised both Yankees officials and the White House staff.

But Mr. Trump had been so annoyed by Dr. Fauci's turn in the limelight, an official familiar with his reaction said, that he had directed his aides to call Yankees officials and make good on a longtime standing offer from Mr. Levine to throw out an opening pitch. No date was ever finalized.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted:
Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won't be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the @Yankees on August 15. We will make it later in the season!
"and much else" ... lol ... 2020 would be the perfect season for Trump to attend a major league game, since with no fans in attendance, he would not be booed. That was not the case during last year's World Series. When Trump's image appeared on the large video screen at Nationals Park during Game 5, the capacity crowd booed loudly and a loud chant of "Lock Him Up! echoed throughout the park. Trump's smile vanished in an instant and he looked like he was seething.

This was not the first time that Trump, annoyed that someone else would be getting attention, lied about his schedule. Back in April, the day before Vice President Mike Pence was to speak at the Air Force commencement ceremony in Colorado, Trump suddenly announced he would be speaking at West Point. As the Times stated: This was news to West Point.

Trump also put Pence in charge of the virus task force, assuming that when it failed, Pence would get the blame. But then Pence got some good press about his public comments and that was when Trump stepped in and took over the briefings, pushing Pence to the sideline and often speaking and avoiding questions for more than an hour.

Trump has clashed with Fauci ever since the virus appeared in the US in Feburary. Fauci is a scientist and has not endorsed Trump's increasingly insane comments and theories; he has instead stated the opposite, mentioning that of course the death toll would be much, much lower had Trump followed even basic health guidelines.

Fauci has also publicly criticized Trump's effort to limit or stop his television appearances. In recent weeks, Fauci has not been invited to meetings regarding the virus held by a new group of White House officials, led by Jared Kushner, the president's ignorant and incompetent son-in-law.

Joe Kelly, After Striking Out Carlos Correa: "Nice Swing, Bitch!"


Lest we forget:

July 28, 2020

G5: Mets 8, Red Sox 3

Mets    - 030 020 030 - 8 10  0
Red Sox - 001 001 001 - 3 10  1
The Red Sox's dismal start to the abbreviated 2020 season continued on Tuesday, with an 8-3 loss to the Mets. It was Boston's fourth consecutive loss. As gamethreader mjg13x said: "It's going to be a long sprint."

How bad has this first week been? After Opening Day's 13-2 win (which has already become a hazy memory), Boston has lost 2-7, 4-7, 4-7, and 3-8. Only once before have the Red Sox begun a season by giving up 7+ runs in four of their first five games. That was in 1901, when those five games were the only five games the team had ever played. The 1901 Red Sox ended up allowing 7+ runs in six of their first seven games: 6-10, 6-12, 5-8, 8-6 (10), 1-14, 23-12, and 4-9.

The starting pitchers' stats in the four losses: 13.1 innings, 17 hits, 16 runs (15 earned), 8 walks, 6 strikeouts. 10.13 ERA. The Red Sox have been outscored 29-13.

New York posted a palindromic linescore, while the Red Sox repeated "001" three times. After Matt Hall (2.2-3-3-2-3, 51) breezed through a six-pitch first, the Metropolitans made him throw 35 pitches in the second. J.D. Davis singled, Yoenis Céspedes was hit by a pitch, Robinson Canó doubled in one run and after a walk, Amed Rosario singled home two more. Hall was lifted after a walk in the third. He was replaced by Austin Brice, who gave up a two-run homer to Davis in the fifth.

Ryan Brasier surrendered three runs in the eighth, needing half the batters (7) and one-third of the pitches (17) as Hall needed earlier. Canó singled and scored on Brandon Nimmo's double. Pete Alonso walked with two outs and Jeff McNeill cracked a two-run double off the wall in left-center.

The Red Sox's poor performance was telegraphed from the start. José Peraza smacked David Peterson's second major league pitch off the wall in left. For reasns that may never be adequately explained, Peraza tried for second base. Canó took the throw from left and read nearly half of Roberto Bolaño's posthumous novel 2666 before putting the tag on Peraza.

In the third, Peterson (5.2-7-2-2-3, 78) lost his command, giving up a double to Kevin Plawecki on a 4-0 pitch (plate umpire James Hoye blew the ball 4 call) and walking Andrew Benintendi on five pitches. Peraza slammed the ball to deep right-center, where it glanced off the tip of Nimmo's glove. The runners played it safe and Boston had the bases loaded and no one out.

J.D. Martinez struck out. Rafael Devers lined out to Canó, who made the catch at his shoetops. The nearby ump signaled a catch. Plawecki had broken for home when the ball was hit. Canó was standing by the bag with the ball when Benintendi wandered off and started for third. He stayed in a rundown for a little bit, but was easily tagged out.

I refused to unmute NESN (assuming they were butchering an interpretation of the rules anyway*), so it took a while before I learned that even though the umpire had signaled a catch, Devers's line drive had hit the ground (that was what replays showed as well). And that ended up being the official call (without a challenge). Therefore, Canó forced Peraza at second, so Benintendi had to run, but he also needed to be tagged. Which he was (4-6-5-4). Devers did not get an RBI.

(*: I was right. A tweet to Alex Speier shortly after the play: "Can you explain basic baseball rules to @eck43. He keeps saying Benny wandered off the bag but he had to go as bases were loaded and it wasn't a catch.")

Double from Devers and Kevin Pillar resulted in a fifth-inning run and Pillar doubled and scored on a groundout in the ninth.

NESN's poll question was whether you liked the new 3-batter rule for relief pitchers. Only 39% said Yes. ... If NESN hasn't done a poll on the extra-inning runner, I'd be very interested in seeing one soon (before everyone stops watching these games).
David Peterson / Matt Hall
Peraza, 2B
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pillar, RF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Plawecki, C
Benintendi, LF
Andrew Benintendi is hitting ninth for the first time since 2016. ... Michael Chavis is 0-for-his-last-21, going back to August 6, 2019. ... After scoring 13 runs on Opening Day, the Red Sox have scored 10 runs in the three games since.

MLB Postpones All Marlins Games Through Sunday

Major League Baseball has hit the pause button with respect to the Miami Marlins, postponing all of their games through Sunday. That's a total of six games.

In addition, the remaining three games of the home-and-home series between the Phillies and Yankees have been postponed (tonight in Philadelphia and Wednesday and Thursday in New York). The Yankees will instead go to Baltimore for two games (Wednesday and Thursday) against the Orioles, who had been scheduled to host the Marlins this week.

The Nationals were scheduled to play a three-game series this Friday and weekend in Miami. That will not happen. The postponement of that series avoids a possible confrontation between Commissioner Rob Manfred and the Nationals player, who voted in near-unanimity earlier today against going to Miami.

"Vast Majority" Of Nationals Vote Against Traveling To Miami This Weekend, Setting Up Possible Wildcat Strike & Confrontation With Manfred

A "vast majority" of Washington Nationals players have voted against traveling to Miami this weekend for a three-game series against the Marlins.

However, teams do not have a right to not play games if they think it's unsafe, according to the agreed-upon health and safety guidelines. If the Nationals refuse to play, they will be engaging in a wildcat strike.

Commissioner Rob Manfred's big-ass problem just got much, much bigger.

Will he allow the Nationals to strike, completely undercutting his authority? Or will Manfred order the Nationals to play, showing the players on the other 29 teams that he doesn't care one whit about their health?

On Tuesday morning, four more Marlins tested positive, bringing the team's total to 18 (15 players and three coaches, out of a reported group of 33 people). There are doubts the Marlins will be able to field a team for tomorrow night's scheduled game in Baltimore.

As Craig Calcaterra writes, MLB's response to the pandemic "is mirroring what has happened with America: a lack of strong, clear guidance from above has resulted in reactive, ad-hoc measures below, leading to inconsistency and confusion."

If Manfred and the club owners refuse to make the health and safety of the players and coaches the absolute top priority, the players must take matters into their own hands.

As expected, tonight's Yankees-Phillies game in Philadelphia has been postponed. But all games scheduled for Wednesday are still on.

Vox's Aaron Rupar spoke at length with Dr. Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Oxford College of Emory University. It should be read in its entirety.
Can we just have a moment of shared humanity here? A potentially serious virus is ripping through your clubhouse that's part of a broader global pandemic. Can we hit pause here for a minute? Can we deal with that? Can we deal with the psychological fallout and the stress from that? I mean, some coaches are infected. Depending on who they are, there's no guarantee that they're going to be fine. There's no guarantee that all the players will be fine ...

MLB needs to step in and put on its big boy pants and be the adult in the room and recognize that. I would say for two weeks. One day is laughable. If they try to take anybody from that traveling party and have them play Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday, I don't even have words for how reckless that would be. They know there's a good chance some of them are sick, and they put them on the field anyway? They would just be declaring that they don't care. They don't care about the health of their athletes or their coaches, or the Marlins' opponents — the Orioles — they don't care. And the Orioles, by the way, would be stating that they don't care about the people of Baltimore if that game happened, because they would be bringing in a group with a known raging outbreak to stay in a local hotel.

So everybody needs to take a minute, take a step back, and look at themselves in the mirror for God's sake. We are people — can we act like it for a minute?

July 27, 2020

Manfred: Protocol Was Followed With Marlins; Will Proceed With Games On Wednesday If Tests From Monday Are Negative (One Infectious Disease Expert Called That Decision "Absolutely Insane" & Literally The "Stupidest Possible Plan")

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak among the Marlins, in an interview with Tom Verducci on the MLB Network.

Manfred said that if additional tests of the Marlins players are acceptable, the Marlins and Orioles would play on Wednesday in Baltimore. MLB may receive test results from the Marlins and Phillies late Monday night.
We're waiting to see exactly what we get in terms of test results before we make a decision. Right now, the only thing that's firm is if the test results result in negatives for the rest of the [Marlins], we would play at least two in Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday.
That plan was described as both "absolutely insane" and the "stupidest possible plan" by Dr. Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University's Oxford College. Binney urged MLB:
Show even a shred of self-reflection and humanity. At least fake it. Who are your medical and public health advisors? Where are they?
Binney thinks MLB must make sure to confine the "ongoing outbreak" to one (or two) teams - and should order the Marlins and Phillies to stay in quarantine for at least five days to see if more cases appear. Even if all the tests from Monday come back negative, Binney said "that's no guarantee that the virus isn't sneaking through that locker room right now".
The Marlins Timeline: Testing on Friday revealed one positive result on Saturday. Testing on Saturday revealed three more positives on Sunday.

What then happened under the protocols, was we did contact tracing on all four positives; there were a small number of players who met the CDC guidelines. They were quarantined; we ordered additional testing, we did symptom checks. We did temperature checks and decided to proceed with the game on Sunday.
The testing on Sunday revealed 10 positive results on Monday. ... Did MLB also do contact tracing on that "small number" of players? Also, "symptom checks" are worthless if players are asymptomatic.

1 ... 3 ... 10 ... What will Monday's tests reveal?

Manfred said he spoke with all 30 owners during a conference call on Monday and the possibility of canceling the season or even putting it on hold was not discussed.
We talked about the situation. I think most of the owners realize that we built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season, that the protocols were built in order to allow us to continue to play through those positives. I think there was support for the notion that we believe that the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe. ... I remain optimistic that the protocols are strong enough that it will allow us to continue to play -- even through an outbreak like this -- and complete our season.
Manfred was asked what it would take for him to consider shutting down a team or a portion of the schedule:
I think that a team losing a number of players that rendered it completely non-competitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change. Whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances. Same thing with respect to league-wide; you get to a certain point league-wide where it does become a health threat and we certainly would shut down at that point.
Keep in mind that 40% of the Marlins roster has already tested positive.

I have not seen any statements from the Players Association, which seems odd. Perhaps I missed them.

Manfred said the decisions that have been made are the right ones. Iin every case. Maybe it's me, but from just reading his quotes, I could not help but get a certain Trumpian vibe of obstinacy.

Seeing the decisions from Manfred's conference call with the owners, such as the owners intending to "redouble health directives" and "reinforce on-field behavior prohibitions" against high fives and fist bumps only confirms the feeling.

Infectious Diseases Professor: MLB's Plan "Was Designed To Fail And They Went Through With It Anyways ... Anyone Who Knows Anything About [Infectious Diseases] Could Have Anticipated This ... Baseball Is In Huge Trouble"; Having Marlins Play On Wednesday "Is The Stupidest Possible Plan, Absolutely Insane"


Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, says the outbreak among the Miami Marlins is not a surprise because MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's plan was seriously flawed.
Baseball is in huge trouble, huge trouble. It makes me wonder if they are listening to the advice of experts or whether their experts are giving them good advice. This was not a plan anyone who knows what they are talking about would have conceived. It's playing out like it was supposed to play out.
Anyone who knows anything about this problem and infectious disease epidemiology could have anticipated this. This plan was designed to fail and they went through with it anyways. ...

The sports broadcasting industry has a conflict of interest. They are interested in a good product and minimizing the whole COVID situation. You are not going to hear good commentary from people who have the most interest in sports continuing on. ...

There are Lou Williams type stories in MLB that we are just not hearing about because they are not tightly controlling their players as the NBA is trying to do. It's going to end with a headline saying the first player is admitted to the intensive care unit.
Craig Calcaterra (NBC Sports) writes:
Major League Baseball needs to be suspended immediately. Rob Manfred needs to answer for why he allowed the Marlins-Phillies game to take place yesterday in such dangerous conditions. Then, in my view, he needs to resign.
Either MLB's protocols have no data-driven mechanisms or decision-making hierarchy via which games are postponed, or else it has them but they were allowed to be ignored. It has to be one or the other because "Miguel Rojas decides via group text" is probably not in the manual. ...

Seriously: Which is it? Did the league fail to plan for the eventuality of four guys on a team testing positive before a game or did it plan for it only to allow a team to ignore its plans because they wanted to "play hard?" ...

Some players are liking "they should cancel the season" tweets. Managers are not-subtly hinting that they want games canceled. MLB can't just set some random rules about how to pivot from today. They're losing the confidence of the people in harm's way.
A statement from Marlins CEO Derek Jeter raises numerous questions.
The health of our players and staff has been and will continue to be our primary focus ... [W]e now have experienced challenges ... take a collective pause ... properly grasp the totality of this situation. ... We have conducted another round of testing ... will provide additional information as it becomes available.
As Calcaterra explains:
The "____ is our top priority" form of corporate statement is always — always — deployed when the thing the business is claiming to be its top priority has been manifestly compromised. ... It's become such a cliche that it's hard to take that bit of businesspeak even remotely seriously.

What I'd like to hear is why the Marlins played a game with over 10% of its roster having tested positive and a bunch of other tests outstanding. What was the protocol that was followed and what, if anything, might have caused them to cancel that game if not the situation present at the time. Why, as Don Mattingly said, was the idea of cancelling the game "never considered" before today's Marlins COVID-19 outbreak?

I don't ask this rhetorically. ... It's something, in light of today's events, that should be a lot more transparent than it is. I bet it's something a lot of players want to know too.

Dr. Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University’s Oxford College, on the plan to have the Marlins and Orioles play in Baltimore on Wednesday:
This is absolutely insane ... if possible, the literal stupidest possible plan. You have a raging outbreak, anyone in the Marlins' traveling party could be infected regardless of how their tests come back. So by all means, just bring that on the road to Baltimore! ...

MLB needs to act aggressively now, to hope that you have kept the outbreak contained to the Marlins. ... What you really don't want is it jumping to other clubs because they're traveling and playing other opponents. So two teams is a lot harder to control than one team. And three teams would be even harder. And you really want to stop it from getting to that point. ...

At a minimum, you have to shut down for at least five days to see if more cases uncover. And you need to wait because you could have ongoing transmission from cases that are newly discovered tomorrow or the next day. You could still have more come from chains of transmission from those people after that. So there's no cure but time here, unfortunately. ...

The only remaining right move, I think, is to wait about five days to see if any cases pop up on the Phillies, because just testing them yesterday or today — the virus takes time to show up. So even if every Phillies player, coach and staff member tests negative, that's no guarantee that the virus isn't sneaking through that locker room right now. The hard, cold truth is, you have to wait a few days to see what's going to happen in the Phillies' locker room before you can be confident one way or the other. So I'm saying either risk it and play on or wait five days. But waiting only one day doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.
One team executive:
My concern was there would be a false sense of security rolling into the season, guys getting comfortable and letting their guard down. This is way more than a wake-up call. This is a big deal. In the blink of an eye, it can change. Here is the blink of an eye. And boy, did it change.
Nationals manager Davey Martinez:
My level of concern went from an 8 to a 12. ... It hits home now. I got friends on that Miami team. It really stinks. ...I have guys in my clubhouse who are really concerned as well.
Dodgers pitcher David Price:
Now we REALLY get to see if MLB is going to put players health first. Remember when Manfred said players health was PARAMOUNT?! Part of the reason I'm at home right now is because players health wasn't being put first. I can see that hasn't changed.
Manfred et al. will not be able to run out the clock on this debacle. It will not go away in the next news cycle. It's not a trivial matter, like sign-stealing.

It is literally life and death.

G4: Mets 7, Red Sox 4

Mets    - 022 300 000 - 7 11  0
Red Sox - 000 101 020 - 4  8  2
The Mets had already taken an early 2-0 lead when they battered reliever Jeffrey Springs for five more runs in 1.1 innings, including home runs from Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. The Red Sox have lost three in a row, and are now 1-3.

Boston got solo homers from Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts. Zack Godley (4-4-0-0-7, 53) was a bright spot, pitching four shutout innings and striking out seven.

Josh Osich (2-2-2-1-1, 28) had an interesting first inning. Amed Rosario beat out a grounder to second and José Peraza was charged with an error. With one out, Jeff McNeil lined a low shot that caromed off Rafael Devers's glove towards second base. Boagerts chased it down, but was too far in front of the bag to make a play on Rosario, who noticed no one at third base and took off. Bogaerts sprinted after him, closed the gap, and then dove, tagging Rosario's left foot before he got to the base. Third base umpire Chad Witson blew the call, ruling Rosario safe. (The umpire at second, Mike Estabrook, should have had a clear view of the tag, but he apparently kept quiet.) The Red Sox challenged the call and it was quickly overturned. Osich then picked McNeil off first (the play went 1-3-6).

Watching live, it looked like Bogaerts might have tagged Rosario. Seeing the replay, there was no doubt. Whether Bogaerts's glove touched Rosario's body was impossible to tell, but his glove pushed Rosario's left foot. That was obvious. Yet none of the three NESN announcers (Dave O'Brien, Jerry Remy, or Dennis Eckersley) could definitely state if a tag had been made. Eckersley said the replay was "not conclusive" and Remy, after seeing it two or three times, admitted he still could not tell.

How is this possible? These guys are watching the game from somewhere not Fenway Park - just like you and I. They are following the game on monitors - just like you and I. Why is it that I can tell immediately, before the first replay has finished, that Bogaerts pushed Rosario's left shoe with his glove, and three announcers, whose job it is to watch and discern and interpret what is going on, have zero clue what happened, even after seeing three replays?

My TV is nothing special and I need new glasses (the lenses are somewhat scratched)! But three announcers x three replays equals nine viewings - and nothing! Are O'Brien, Remy, and Eckersley under strict orders not to contradict the umpires' on-field calls? (From whom? Manfred's office?) It seems unlikely, but I honestly can think of no other answer.

Osich allowed a two-run dong to Michael Confort in the second. Alonso crushed a two-run shot off Springs in the third, after Rosario's one-out single. Springs also gave up a double, a walk, and a three-run johnson to Smith to start the third.
Michael Wacha / Josh Osich
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, RF
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
Josh Osich is the Red Sox's first "opener" of the season.

Despite A "Clear Outbreak" Of SARS-CoV-2, Marlins Played Phillies On Sunday;
Now 14 Players/Coaches Have Tested Positive, Games Postponed In Miami & Philadelphia;
MLB's Entire Website Pretending These Positive Tests Do Not Exist

Despite four positive tests, including three yesterday, the Miami Marlins went ahead and played the Phillies on Sunday. Today, the Marlins learned of 10 more positive tests.

40% of the Marlins' roster has tested positive.

The Marlins' home opener, scheduled for tonight against the Orioles, has been postponed. Tonight's Yankees-Phillies game in Philadelphia has also been postponed. The Orioles have returned to Baltimore, so it's likely Tuesday's games in both cities will also be postponed.

MLB's website includes a link to a statement concerning the cancellations, but nothing about the 14 positive tests. Anyone looking at the Marlins' official webpage would assume everything is completely normal and wonderful. Every news outlet is reporting on this huge story except MLB.

MLB's statement avoids mentioning the positive tests, saying only that the games are postponed "due to COVID-19 concerns". MLB's lack of transparency and refusal to report essential and newsworthy information does not inspire trust that Commissioner Rob Manfred will act appropriately concerning this crisis.

The four positive tests met the definition of a "clear outbreak" and should have resulted in the team shutting itself down. The Marlins received news of 10 additional positive tests today (seven players and two coaches).

Dr. Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University's Oxford College, says that by allowing teams to travel and play despite positive tests, MLB is essentially conducting "a real-time experiment in how COVID-19 transfers within the game"

In the words of one team executive, "this whole thing has the makings of MLB's worst nightmare."
Jayson Stark and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic ask: "Why Did The Marlins Play Baseball On Sunday?"
Multiple sources confirmed that the Marlins played despite having three players learn Sunday that they'd tested positive for COVID-19, just two days after a fourth player learned of a positive test on Friday. Two infectious-disease specialists told The Athletic on Sunday that those positive tests fit the definition of a "clear outbreak" of the virus within their team. ...

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said his team "never really considered not playing" on Sunday. The club's most respected veteran, shortstop Miguel Rojas, told the media afterward that all 30 players discussed the situation Sunday morning, but said not playing was "never our mentality."

And sources familiar with MLB protocols said that the league had done full contact tracing following the first positive test, tested all remaining Marlins players and based the decision not to intervene in part on the fact that no other players tested positive or reported symptoms.

Yet that reasoning raised major questions from the two infectious-disease specialists contacted by The Athletic.

"I think that by any definition, this is an outbreak on their team," said Dr. John Swartzburg, a clinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, Division of Infectious Disease. "And an outbreak on a team means that the team needs to close down."

"Earlier, in (summer camp), if you didn't have test results, you didn't practice," said Dr. [Binney]. "So to have four positive results and then play a game just seems totally unaligned with that. ... No. 1 is, if I get a negative result back today, that doesn't mean that I'm negative and not infectious right now. It means I was negative or not infectious when I got that test. If that was yesterday, it means I wasn't infectious yesterday. The other thing is that this disease can take several days to show itself – by which I mean you don't test positive immediately after you've been exposed. You test positive three, five, seven days after you've been exposed. So it's possible that some of these players or staff are incubating the infection right now and could turn up positive when they get the results back from another round of testing, say, in a couple of days."

Swartzberg agreed, saying: "They've got 10 percent or more of their entire (traveling) group positive. That suggests that there's a high probability that more people are going to end up testing positive."

If that's the case, however, it means that those players were allowed to play baseball Sunday, potentially exposing other Marlins players and staff – as well as members of the Phillies – to the virus. ...

What many club officials have long feared is this exact scenario: One player contracts the virus, isn't aware he has been infected and transmits it to others around him before learning he tests positive. Then those other players do the same before they get their own test results. Meanwhile, that team is traveling – leaving its traveling party, opposing teams, hotel workers and others exposed to the virus. ...

"Frankly, I was hoping that we would not see it this rapidly," said Swartzberg, who has taught classes in infectious diseases and pandemics for the last four decades. "But we've been into the season for – what? – less than a week, and we've already seen an outbreak. I think that speaks for itself."

Asked what this says about the chances of baseball getting through this season, Swartzberg replied: "I'll use a medical term. It portends a poor prognosis." And there's a lesson to be heeded from that prognosis, he said.

"The lesson is, in spite of what the Marlins were doing, it didn't work," Swartzberg said. "I'm going to assume the Marlins were following the protocols that the owners and the players have agreed upon … and it failed. It failed in less than 72 hours." ...

Added Binney on Monday, after the additional positive tests were announced, "I've been saying for weeks that 3-4 cases in a few days should be enough to shut down a team. This is exactly why. Three to four cases is unlikely to stay 3-4 cases. Playing the game [Sunday] was stupid and reckless…. The Phillies sent their clubhouse attendants into a hot zone."
ESPN posted a FAQ:
Does the Marlins' outbreak of positive cases put their season in jeopardy?
Of course, but that's why there's a taxi squad of up to 30 players. If the league is going to continue play, then it's next man up, as hard as that might be to believe. There really is no other choice. If the Marlins' season is in jeopardy, then the entire league's is as well. -- Jesse Rogers
What does the Marlins' outbreak mean for the state of the MLB season as a whole?
We'll only be able to answer this accurately with hindsight -- though it looms as a possibility that Monday's news is an inflection point with ramifications not only across the rest of this season, but across all the major team sports endeavoring to attempt what MLB already is trying to pull off. ... [I]t is more than a little disheartening that it came with just 92 games in the books. Baseball couldn't get through its first weekend without a possible nightmare scenario emerging.

First, we await test results for the Phillies and their stadium personnel and the weekend's umpiring crews, among others. We will see just how widely spread the breakout is among the Marlins, and once we do, we will determine if they can plausibly -- and safely -- field a viable active roster from their 60-player pool. ... When we know whether the Marlins can keep playing, we'll know a lot more about the viability of continuing the season. ... It's also important that MLB be transparent with the decisions it makes in reaction to this situation. If the medical experts tell them it's simply too dangerous for the Marlins to keep going, then baseball's newest moment of truth will be at hand. -- Bradford Doolittle
Could this impact other teams beyond the Marlins?
The Marlins played in Atlanta before going to Philadelphia. They played three games against the Phillies, occupying the visiting clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, where the Yankees were due to take up residence Monday. The Marlins were slated to play the Orioles, who, presumably, are already in Miami. The Braves just finished a three-game series against the Mets, on the heels of their exhibition games against the Marlins. The Mets, meanwhile, are headed to Boston to begin a series Monday night at Fenway Park. Hopefully, this outbreak is confined to the Marlins. However, you can easily see how one team's outbreak could cause the whole house of cards to crumble. ... -- Doolittle
Could the Marlins just bring up players from their taxi squad and keep playing?
Yes, that was the whole point of the taxi squad -- but it might not be feasible if half or more of their roster is infected. It's still the most likely scenario, because the other choice is to shut down. -- Rogers
Why were the Marlins allowed to play the Phillies on Sunday after multiple players tested positive?
There is no rule in place that players can't participate as they await test results. But playing could have been a mistake. That Miami had multiple positives before Sunday's game and the contest went on as scheduled is concerning. Perhaps any time that happens, it should trigger an automatic postponement. Another red flag here is that even if you test every day, people do not necessarily exhibit symptoms or trigger positive tests right away. Inevitably, infected players will take the field without anyone, including themselves, knowing that they have contracted the virus. ... The one step baseball hasn't taken is to make mask-wearing mandatory at all times, even on the field. And while that could be a next step, we don't actually yet know how the Marlins' outbreak began and if some kind of on-field mask mandate would have made a difference. Where did it happen? Airport? Airplane? Bus ride? Hotel lobby? Restroom? -- Doolittle
Could this lead to more players opting out of the season?
Seems likely, but perhaps those who already made the decision to play will be determined to press on. However, given the number of the players, coaches and managers in baseball, there has to be people pondering whether to take the risk. A teamwide outbreak four days into the season could convince a few people that the risk is just too great. -- Doolittle

Rodriguez Shut Down With Heart Issue; No Team Starts 3-0 For First Time In 66 Years

Eduardo Rodriguez was ordered last Thursday to stop working out for at least a week, as he awaits the results of additional testing after an MRI revealed an issue with his heart that could be related to his contraction of SARS-CoV-2.
It's been weird, man. Hard, weird, scary. First, I got all of the COVID symptoms. Then I got here and now I had this. I was hoping that I could get ready for the season as quickly as I can. Then I get a week off. ... I feel normal. What I have is called myocarditis ... That what came up in the MRI. That's why the doctor told me to take a week, just rest, don't get (my heart rate up) and we'll wait to see what the next MRI says. If it goes away, just go back to work. ... The first time I heard that, I was kind of scared. Now that I know what it is, I'm still scared, but now at least I know exactly what it is.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, usually brought on by a viral infection. It can affect the heart's electrical system and its ability to pump, causing rapid or abnormal heart rhythms. Roughly 10-20% of people who have SARS-CoV-2 also have been diagnosed with myocarditis.

Rodriguez has not considered opting out of the season.
No, no, no, no. I want to be pitching yesterday, the day before or today. I want to be out there every time I can. I'm never thinking about getting out of the season. I feel badly every time I see a game and I'm not even in the dugout. ... I love baseball. I've been watching all the games ... I can't just be sitting around and not thinking about baseball. ... I'm going to be watching every game because I like to see where my teammates are at and how they're doing.
No major league team has begun this season 3-0, making 2020 the first year since 1954 that no team has won its first three games. (MLB standings on April 16 and 17, 1954)

Mike Trout hit his first career home run on a 3-0 count on Sunday. Trout almost never swings on 3-0. In 211 plate appearances, he has put the ball in play only six times. He had last swung at a 3-0 pitch in 2016.

Shohei Ohtani made his first start since September 2, 2018, after which he had TJ surgery. He did not record an out against the Athletics and only 15 of his 30 pitches were strikes. Single, walk, walk, walk, single, single.

Reds pitchers struck out 10+ batters in each of their first three games, something the franchise had never done in the previous 127 seasons (since the mound was moved back to 60 feet and six inches in 1893). According to Elias, the Reds had begun a season with two games of 10+ pitcher strikeouts only three other times: 1990, 2013, 2016. Reds pitchers fanned 13 Tigers on Friday, followed by 17 on Saturday and 16 on Sunday.
Competitive Balance!
AL East, AL Central, NL East, Morning of July 26, 2020