Terry Francona

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.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.