David Ortiz benched against Francisco Liriano

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Three regulars are absent from the Red Sox’s lineup for today’s game against the Twins. Jacoby Ellsbury is still recovering from bruised ribs suffered Sunday in a collision with Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron was a last-minute scratch with a strained abdomen, and David Ortiz has been benched in favor of Mike Lowell.
Ortiz taking a seat will obviously make the most headlines, but even setting aside his 13 strikeouts in 26 at-bats so far this season it makes sense for the Red Sox to replace him with Lowell against a tough left-handed pitcher like Francisco Liriano.
Like nearly all left-handed hitters Ortiz is significantly less effective against left-handed pitchers, and last season he hit just .212 with a .716 OPS against them. Combined from 2007-2009 he hit .253 with a .777 OPS versus lefties compared to .291 with a .977 OPS versus righties. Meanwhile, during that same three-year span Lowell hit .314 with an .881 OPS versus lefties.
At this point Lowell is simply a better hitter than Ortiz against left-handers, and the decision is made even easier by the fact that Liriano has a massive platoon split as well. Since returning from Tommy John surgery he’s held lefties to .243 batting average and .632 OPS, whereas righties have tagged him for a .279 batting average and .840 OPS. Add it all up and Terry Francona would be making the right call today even if Ortiz wasn’t struggling.

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.