Two more ejections as Red Sox complete sweep of Orioles

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Home-plate umpire Marty Foster took control of this one with nearly as much finesse as Wily Mo Pena employs attacking a fastball.

Red Sox right-hander Kyle Weiland was ejected from his first big-league start and Orioles reliever Mike Gonzalez was tossed an inning later in the finale of the four-game series in Boston on Sunday.

The Red Sox won the game 8-6 to complete a four-game sweep of the reeling Orioles.

Two days after David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg touched off a brawl, there were three HBPs in this one.  Weiland started it off, hitting Mark Reynolds in the hand with a fastball in the third.  Reynolds stayed in to run, but was removed in the bottom of the inning.

In the top of the fourth, Orioles reliever Jeremy Guthrie hit Kevin Youkilis, leading to warnings being issued for the second straight day.  The problem there is that the pitch was a changeup.  Guthrie clearly had no intention of hitting Youkilis, but Foster felt he had to gain control of the situation or some such nonsense.

So, in the fifth, when a Weiland fastball clipped Vladimir Guerrero in the hand, both Weiland and Red Sox manager Terry Francona were tossed.  The Red Sox were up 7-6 at the time, and they were hoping Weiland would get through the inning and become eligible for the win.  Again, there was no intention from Weiland there.

In the sixth, there may well have been some intention.  Mike Gonzalez, who ran a pitch up and in on the Yankees’ Chris Dickerson that left Dickerson with a concussion back in April, threw a fastball behind Ortiz and to the backstop.  It could have slipped, but Gonzalez was the least likely of any Baltimore pitchers, besides maybe Gregg, to get the benefit of the doubt.  He and manager Buck Showalter were tossed immediately.

The dugouts never did get involved in any of the action, and things went smoothly after Gonzalez’s ejection.  The Red Sox added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh that they didn’t need, as the Orioles never scored again after touching up Weiland for six runs in the second.

The Red Sox knocked Mitch Atkins out early, as Marco Scutaro, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis all homered in the second.   That led to the rare relief appearance for Guthrie.   Guthrie was actually pretty successful in his 3 1/3 innings, allowing just one run, but since it was the go-ahead run, he was tagged with his 12th loss of the season.  The unlucky right-hander is nine games under .500 despite a decent 4.18 ERA.

Alfredo Aceves recorded the win.  He pitched the first three of five consecutive hitless innings for the Red Sox pen.  Daniel Bard worked the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 20th save.

Boston won for the 10th time in 11 games to finish the first half 55-35.  It’s the AL’s best record, though the Yankees are just one game behind at 53-35.

The St. Louis Cardinals announce their first Pride Night

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The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they will hold their first Pride Night on August 25th.

A lot of teams have Pride Nights, but it’s worth noting that the Cardinals are holding one given some bad press — some fair, some unfair — they have received in recent years when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion.

Earlier this month the club received criticism from the LGBT community due to Lance Berkman’s presence for the team’s annual Christian Day, given his past comments about transgender people and his participation in a Houston political campaign over access to public restrooms. Recently, a former Cardinals minor league player claimed he left baseball after enduring anti-gay comments from his coaches and teammates.

As club president Bill DeWitt III noted in the official announcement however, the Cardinals have hosted LGBT groups in the past. He says that the club is eager to “remind fans that everyone is welcome at Busch Stadium.” He notes that the event will raise money for the PrideSTL Scholarship Fund which, in DeWitt’s words, “help courageous students in our community.”

Nice move, Cardinals.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.