Nyjer Morgan stirs up trouble again with hit on Cards catcher

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It hasn’t drawn much media coverage, but there was a troubling incident at the end of Saturday’s game between the Cardinals and Nationals involving outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who is currently appealing a suspension for a mistake he made one week ago in Philadelphia…

The Nats hammered St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse for eight earned runs and 11 hits and were well on their way to locking up a decisive victory against the heavily-favored Cardinals by the bottom of the eighth inning.  Adam Dunn walked to open the frame, Mike Morse hit a single, Ivan Rodriguez netted an RBI base hit, then Morgan reached on a bunt. 

Seconds later, pinch-hitter Willie Harris drilled a double to right field that had all runners moving and would have allowed Morgan to score easily from first base.  Morgan would have been the 13th run in an eventual 14-5 victory.

Instead of scoring, though, Morgan ran straight toward Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson, who had stepped a foot or two in front of the plate, and lowered his shoulder for an odd hockey-like check.  Anderson was caught off guard and stumbled to the side while Morgan was called out.

Because it happened so fast and the game was completely out of hand, the Cardinals simply went on with their business.  But if Morgan is in the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon, you can bet his backside is going to meet an aimed fastball.

The motivation behind the hit remains unclear.  Maybe Brandon Phillips was right, and everyone really does dislike the Cardinals.  Or maybe Morgan really, really, really hates Glenn Beck and was taking a jab at Cards manager Tony La Russa via his backup catcher.  Any conspiracy theory will work for such an odd and seemingly misguided display of aggression.

Anderson, who was filling in for a banged-up Yadier Molina, spoke to reporters after the game.  Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“It’s going to take a little bit bigger of a guy than that to take me down… so I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I mean, it was, because it was a cheap shot, but not really, I guess.”

Shall we do a tale of the tape?  Why not.  Anderson, 23, stands 6-foot-1 and is listed at 200 lbs.  Morgan, 30, is 6-foot-0 and listed at 170 lbs., but is a former high-level hockey player.  Perhaps the two will drop the gloves on Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital.

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.

The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.

After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.