Did Joe Maddon lie to the umpires last night?

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Weirdness in the Rays-Brewers game, as Sam Fuld — who had pinch hit for reliever J.P. Howell in the top of the eighth — came out to the mound to warm up as the relief pitcher in the bottom of the inning.  He did not face any batters, however, as manager Joe Maddon pulled him for reliever Cesar Ramos after Ramos had time to warm up.

Except here’s the problem: the rules state that if a reliever — in this case Fuld — warms up, he has to actually pitch to a batter.  How did he get out of it? The umpires were told that Fuld had “soreness” and this had to be lifted because of an injury.  This despite the fact that Maddon was pretty expansive after the game in saying that he never intended to let Fuld pitch at all and his presence out there was merely to give Ramos more time.

To sum up: Fuld warming up was a stalling tactic to give Ramos more time, and Maddon — or someone — apparently lied to the umps about Fuld being hurt so that the switch could be made before Fuld had to face anyone.  The umps, as they explained after the game, have to take the manager at his word when an injury is mentioned because, really, they can’t be in the business of judging which injuries are legit and which ones aren’t.

Is this worthy of a federal case? Not really, and it likely had no impact whatsoever on the game. But if I’m Joe Torre or someone I have a talk with Joe Maddon about this, because it looks like he was playing fast and loose, and appearances sort of matter.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”