Luke Hochevar plunks Mike Trout, gets ejected

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After the Angels’ Jered Weaver twice drilled Lorenzo Cain earlier in the game, the Royals apparently opted for a little retaliation Wednesday, with Luke Hochevar plunking Mike Trout on a 3-0 pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Hochevar, who had already given up eight runs and was just about done for the day regardless, was immediately tossed by Bob Davidson after hitting Trout in the arm. Trout remained in the contest afterwards.

It was kind of an odd way for Hochevar to go about it if he did intend to hit Trout. He missed with two inside — but not all that much inside — fastballs earlier in the at-bat, and he then threw a slider low and away for ball three. The fourth pitch was a fastball sent right in the direction of Trout’s hip and would have hit him there if he hadn’t lowered his arm and took it there instead.

A five- or six-game suspension for Hochevar could be a possibility, though in general, it’s the intentional plunkings in higher-profile games that tend to draw the penalties. In giving up eight runs — six earned — in three-plus innings, Hochevar saw his ERA climb to 5.26 today. Weaver was removed after allowing two runs in five innings.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.