Angels tie record, fan 20 Mariners in 5-4 victory

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The Angels tied a major league record Tuesday as five pitchers combined to fan 20 batters in a 5-4 defeat of the Mariners.

Zack Greinke struck out 13 and allowed one run in his five innings of work, but with his pitch count up to 110, the Angels decided to pull him early. That didn’t reduce the errant swings, though. Garrett Richards fanned the side in the sixth, Kevin Jepsen added two in the eighth and Ernesto Frieri got two more in a scoreless ninth to tie the record.

For all the whiffing, the Mariners actually made a game of it in the seventh against Scott Downs. The Angels chose to pull Richards despite all of his success in the sixth, and it proved costly, as Downs gave up two doubles and homer to the five batters he faced.

Between the seventh and the eighth innings, the Mariners sent eight straight batters to the plate without any strikeouts. However, after Miguel Olivo singled and Trayvon Robinson put down a sac bunt in the eighth, Jepsen rebounded to strike out Mike Carp and Dustin Ackley to end the inning.

The Angels became the first team in major league history to record 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game using multiple pitchers. The previous three official 20-K games were all single pitcher affairs (Roger Clemens in 1986 and 1996 and Kerry Wood in 1998). Randy Johnson also had a 20-strikeout game against the Reds in 2001, but that one ended up going into extra innings.

As for the victims, Ackley led the way with four strikeouts, followed by Robinson and Brendan Ryan with three apiece. Justin Smoak hit two homers and walked for Seattle, but even he struck out once in the contest.

Bruce Maxwell is the first MLB player to take a knee during the National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.