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.

Brewers’ Julio Mendez remains hospitalized after hit by pitch

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Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.

Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.

Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.

Brad Ausmus out as Tigers manager

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The Tigers just announced that they will not be bringing Brad Ausmus back as manager in 2018. His contract was going to be up at the end of this season and they have decided not to renew it. Ausmus and his staff will manage the club for the final week of the season.

In the press release announcing the move, Tigers GM Al Avila said “[a]s we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best that we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position.” He went on to praise Ausmus for “doing an admirable job under difficult circumstances, especially this season,” a clear reference to the club’s decision at mid-season to blow things up. Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez were traded in July and August, as were some more minor players. The club is clearly embarking on a lengthy rebuild of which Ausmus, who was brought in four years ago to lead a contending team, will not be a part.

In his four seasons at the helm the Tigers are 312-325. He won 90 games and the AL Central in his first season in 2014, but the Tigers were swept out of the ALDS in three games. In the past three seasons they finished fifth, second and will either finish in fourth or fifth this year. Injuries and poor bullpens have been the biggest problem, but clearly this Tigers team was supposed to win more over the past four years.

It’s unclear what direction the Tigers will take in their managerial search, but it’s clear they’re going to go outside of the organization, as Avila said in his statement that the status of the current coaching staff will be contingent on the wishes of whatever new manager they hire.

Happy trails, Brad Ausmus. Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager is now Baseball’s Most Handsome Unemployed coach.