The he-said, he-said of the Brandon Phillips-Jared Hughes thing died out a day after it all went down. Probably for the best, given that (a) neither Phillips nor Hughes was willing to say they were wrong; and (b) no one’s interests would be served by having it strung out any longer.
But in today’s Post-Gazette Ron Cook takes what I consider to be a totally demented angle on the matter. He called Brandon Phillips a “punk” because he didn’t start a brawl during the game:
Is Brandon Phillips a punk or what? … After the game, Phillips tweeted that he heard a racist remark. He didn’t mention names, but the implication was that it came from Hughes.
Right there, Phillips lost all respect. He never looked at Hughes even as Hughes was yelling at him. If Hughes slurred him — using the word “boy,” according to Phillips — shouldn’t Phillips have charged the mound and gone after Hughes? Some things are more important than the fear of injury or a suspension or even the impact either would have on your team in the playoffs and World Series. Defending your manhood is one. Phillips came up awfully small there.
Cook goes on to say that Phillips reaching out to Andrew McCutchen in an effort to have a go at fence-mending with Hughes was “impossible to explain.”
This is bizzaro world territory. You’re not allowed to take umbrage at what you perceive to be a racist remark unless you’re willing to get violent about it? Running at the guy and tackling him is preferable to trying to talk it out? On what planet is Cook writing this from? The one in which Jackie Robinson routinely beat the crap out of people in 1947 as he made his way into the majors? The one where Martin Luther King led violent mobs in the streets?
Look, you can take legitimate issue with Phillips over making the incident public. You can even reasonably believe that he was simply wrong about what Hughes said to him and handled it poorly in the aftermath. But to suggest that Phillips or anyone else loses all credibility on a racial matter if they don’t react violently is beyond ridiculous.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.