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.

Watch: Ryan Goins tags Todd Frazier with the hidden ball trick

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The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.

Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.

Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.