A wild Jonathan Sanchez plunked Chase Utley in the back, leading a perturbed Utley to flip the ball back to the pitcher and sparking a benches-clearing incident in the third inning of Game 6 of the NLCS.
The ball, which hit Utley just above the numbers, happened to carom and bounce into Utley’s right hand as he started to take his base with none out in the third. He casually flipped the ball back to Sanchez, with no apparent malice, but Sanchez was focused on getting another ball from the umpire and wasn’t quite sure how to take Utley’s toss.
Fortunately, no punches were thrown and no one was ejected from the game as a result of the incident. Sanchez, though, was immediately replaced by manager Bruce Bochy after the loss of composure. Jeremy Affeldt was already warming up anyway, and he was certainly ready to pitch by the time the fracas was over.
The game was tied 2-2 at the time of the incident. The Giants scored twice in the top of the third on a rally started by Sanchez’s single. Sanchez, though, was very wild to start the bottom of the third, leading to the early bullpen activity.
The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.
Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.
Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.
Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).
Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.