Bobby Valentine is already trolling Yankees fans

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If Bobby Valentine’s goal is to play the role of villain in the eyes of Yankees’ fans, he’s already off to a pretty good start.

According to the Associated Press, earlier today the Red Sox were practicing relay throws and Valentine was asked about Derek Jeter’s famous “flip” to home plate in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against the A’s. His answer?

“We’ll never practice that,” Valentine said. “And I think (Jeter) was out of position and I think the ball gets (Giambi) out if he doesn’t touch it, personally.”

“That was amazing that he was there,” Valentine said. “Then it was more amazing to say they practiced it. I don’t believe it.”

Of course, unless Valentine is some sort of omnipotent being, he has no way of knowing how the second hop would have affected the path of the ball to home plate. Jeter’s flip at least allowed the ball to get to Jorge Posada on the fly. And as Rob Neyer recalled late this afternoon, former Yankees’ manager Buck Showalter claims that Jeter did indeed practice the flip play.

But Valentine wasn’t done ribbing the Yankees. When asked to comment on what Jason Varitek meant to the Red Sox organization, he brought up the infamous benches-clearing incident between the longtime catcher and Alex Rodriguez on July 24, 2004.

“He is a man’s man,” Valentine said of Varitek. “He was a big hitter when needed. He was a leader of the pitching staff. He was able to beat up Alex. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.”

If you’ll recall, Rodriguez was plunked by Bronson Arroyo and jawed with the pitcher on the way to first base. Varitek then jumped in between them and shoved his catcher’s mitt in Rodriguez’s face. A-Rod then attempted to put Varitek in a headlock, but the pair were eventually separated as part of a scrum after benches cleared. Whether Varitek actually “beat up” Rodriguez is up for debate, but I guess it works for a quick sound bite. And it’s certainly a moment which epitomized the intensity of the intense rivalry between the clubs at that particular time.

And so, I’ll give Valentine a four out of 10 for historical accuracy. But his trolling ability is pretty spot on.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.