Joe Maddon: people throw at us intentionally; we never do it

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A commenter said yesterday that Joe Maddon often accuses other teams of throwing at his players but that he has never even once hinted that the Rays do the same. Here he was on a radio show yesterday talking about the Red Sox doing just that — and the Red Sox doing nothing — over the weekend:

I guess Adrian Gonzalez had made a comment about hitting a home run and it just happens that night that Matt Moore hits him with a pitch that’s inside and not at him. All of a sudden there is something made out of that and then Luke Scott is intentionally hit in that game. Again they must have a little program up there that if one of their guys gets hit you are going to hit them back regardless of the situation and that’s what it appeared to be to me. Beyond that listen we do not do that. I’m telling you we don’t do that.

Did you think Bobby Valentine ordered his pitchers to throw at your hitters? It seemed that way:

“It was contrived. There’s no question it was a contrived situation. It was very obvious and again that is what I am talking about. You got to be very careful because when you do that as a manager of a team eventually it can get your own guys hurt and that’s what could happen. I would bet to a man none of the Red Sox players appreciated any of that.”

Flash forward to yesterday’s White Sox-Rays game, it seemed pretty darn obvious that Rays pitcher Alex Cobb intentionally threw at both Gordon Beckham and A.J. Pierzynski. Now,  given the events of Tuesday’s game when Pierzynkski went into the bag spikes up, those idiotic unwritten rules of baseball may have demanded that he be hit. But justified or not, the Rays threw at Pierzynski. Worth noting that Maddon denied it, and then accused the White Sox’  Jose Quintana of intentionally throwing at Ben Zobrist and applauding Quintana’s ejection, so he’s pretty consistent.

Of course, after being plunked, A.J. came around to score the White Sox’ third run.  While the Rays may have accepted that as baseball justice, I wonder if, to a man (and woman) Rays fans appreciated that stupid plunking nonsense led to a run by the opposition in what turned out to be a one-run game.

It’s all so silly. Throwing at guys is dumb. Accusing the other team of doing it and denying that you do it is fairly insulting. Just play the game and leave the discipline to the league. If that’s too much, at least quit accusing others of things you do yourself. Keep your uber secret code of silent valor silent.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).