What we're watching: Giants aim for critical sweep

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– Last night’s brawl will probably go down as an isolated incident, but there is the chance that some bad blood will spill over when the Blue Jays and Yankees face off again tonight. The pitching change makes it a little more likely. This was supposed to be a matchup of lefties Brian Tallet and Andy Pettitte, but Pettitte was scratched due to a shoulder issue and will be replaced by wild righty Chad Gaudin. Starting against the Jays 13 days ago, Gaudin hit two batters and walked three in 3 2/3 innings.
– Maybe it’s time for the Rangers to start rooting for Boston? If the Red Sox can beat the Angels again, they’d have the better record of the two clubs, and the Rangers still have six games left against the Angels that they could potentially use to make up ground. The Red Sox will be going for their seventh straight win tonight with Paul Byrd on the mound. He’s 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA in three starts since joining the rotation. The Angels will turn to Joe Saunders, who has won four straight since coming off the DL. He’s 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA in seven career starts against Boston.
Game of the Night
Colorado vs. San Francisco – One more time, it’s Rockies vs. Giants for the game of the night. The Giants won the first two games of the series by a combined 19-3 score to pull within 2 1/2 games in the wild-card chase. Now the pressure is on Colorado to avoid the sweep with 14-game winner Jorge De La Rosa on the mound. De La Rosa has won both of his starts against the Giants this season, even though he allowed six runs in one of them, and is 5-0 with a 3.35 ERA against San Francisco in his career. Giants starter Matt Cain is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA against the Rockies this season. Due to poor run support, he’s picked up a victory in just one of his last nine starts.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.