Brad Penny downplays mound argument with Victor Martinez

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Brad Penny and Victor Martinez got into a heated argument on the mound in the middle of the fourth inning yesterday, with Penny being removed from the game a short time later after allowing seven runs in 3.1 innings against the Angels.

Martinez refused to speak about the situation afterward, but Penny downplayed the incident and said the disagreement was over his wanting to come to a set position while the catcher was giving signs:

It had nothing to do with pitch selection or anything like that. With a runner on second, I like to come set taking signs. That way the hitter can’t look at second base and anything there. I’ve pitched my whole career that way, and he didn’t want me to do it. I know there’s no other way for me. I guess it’s a habit. It’s natural. I’ve done it my whole career. It’s not that big of a deal. Me and Victor have been friends for a while now, and that happens when you’re competing.

Martinez declining to talk about it suggests he thinks the argument was a bit more serious, but as Penny notes they worked together with the Red Sox in 2009 and have teamed up for eight starts this season. Prior to yesterday’s disaster outing Penny had a 4.52 ERA with Martinez catching him and liked working with the catcher enough to effusively praise him to the media back in February:

What I liked about Victor is he was never negative in any way. If you’re struggling and he comes out to the mound and talks to you, it’s all positive. I mean, you can see he just knows you’re going to get out of it and do good. You can see it in his eyes. I mean, like I said before, what a great teammate. You guys are going to be really impressed with him as a person, not only as a player.

Martinez is “never negative in any way” and if “he comes out to the mound and talks to you it’s all positive.” Except yesterday, when he started yelling at Penny while walking out from behind the plate and was so upset that he wouldn’t even address the incident with reporters. But other than that, all positive!

Penny and Martinez hadn’t been paired up since June 26 and something tells me it might be more than a month before they work together again.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.