David Ortiz charges mound as Red Sox-Orioles turns to brawl

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David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg sparked a benches-clearing brawl Friday night with the Red Sox spanking the Orioles for the second night in a row.

The Orioles called on their seldom-used closer down 9-3 in the bottom of the eighth.  After giving up a walk and an RBI triple to Josh Reddick, Gregg threw three straight inside fastballs to Ortiz.  The first and third both had Ortiz jumping out of the way.  Ortiz stared out after the first one and then took a couple of steps towards the mound following the third, causing the dugouts and benches to clear.

No punches were exchanged during the initial incident.  After the players returned to their positions, dugouts and bullpens, warnings were issued.

Gregg next threw a fastball over the plate that Ortiz popped up to shallow right for the second out of the inning.  Immediately as Ortiz popped up, Gregg started yelling at him to run it out.  Home plate umpire Mike Estabrook deserves credit for immediately tossing Gregg for the jawing, but Ortiz decided to charge the mound anyway and got off a couple of wild punches that failed to connect.

All in all, no real damage seemed to be done.  But now the Red Sox will likely have to do without Ortiz for five or six games.  Other players likely will face suspensions, too.  Gregg seems likely to miss a few games, and Red Sox hurlers John Lackey and Jonathan Papelbon were both involved in the scrum.

10:15 p.m. EDT: Orioles reliever Jim Johnson and Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, neither of whom were in the game, joined Ortiz and Gregg in being ejected.

10:20 p.m. EDT: As it turned out, Ortiz flew into a double play.  Reddick, who tripled prior to Ortiz’s at-bat, abandoned third base in order to take part in the fight and was called out, ending the eighth inning after a lengthy delay and several conversation between the umpires and managers Terry Francona and Buck Showalter.

10:25 p.m. EDT: The ninth proved to be uneventful, with Scott Atchison pitching a scoreless frame to end the game at 10-3.

Giancarlo Stanton dented the outfield wall in Marlins Park

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If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.

It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:

Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.

The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.