Well, Trevor Hoffman was still around to notch his 600th save and no one had to forfeit, but a lot of dudes got the hook in last night’s Cardinals-Brewers game:
- Ken Macha was ejected for arguing when the play was called dead and a run taken off the board after second base umpire Tim Timmons ruled that Craig Counsell slid out of the baseline when trying to break up a double play attempt. Sure looked like the right call to me. Counsell wasn’t anywhere near the bag.
- The next inning, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan was ejected by home plate umpire Bob Davidson for something he said from the dugout. Presumably Davidson’s strike zone had something to do with it and, yeah, you can’t argue balls and strikes, but this one seemed a bit off to me. Either (a) Duncan said something really, really over the line; or (b) Davidson is way too sensitive to criticism. In an ideal world the umps would tune that stuff out, but I suppose it depends on what Duncan said.
- Chris Dickerson later got tossed for arguing balls and strikes, though he was on the field at the time — indeed, he was the strikeout victim — so it was a bit more clear cut.
- Finally, Davidson ejected a fan for heckling Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. The guy was later cited for disorderly conduct, which is often code for “dude, you had too many beers and are acting like an ass.” I’ve never understood ballpark drunks, by the way. Beer there costs like $8. If you’re hellbent on getting drunk, you can get a six pack of relatively top-end beer for eight bucks and watch the game in your rumpus room.
Also worth noting that the umps reversed a call on a throw to first that, at first blush, appeared to pull Albert Pujols into the baseline. After the conference, the umps ruled that Pujols didn’t interfere and called the runner safe. Again, looked like the right call, and good for the boys in blue (well, black and gray) for conferring and changing the call.
Davidson’s strike zone seemed wonky, and we can quibble over whether umps should eject pitching coaches for complaining from the dugout, but all in all it was a pretty solid effort on the confrontation front from the umps. In a year with so many examples of bad umpire behavior, you have to consider this something of a victory for reasonableness.
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.