Billy Hamilton had a whale of a game in his starting debut

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So far Reds’ speedster Billy Hamilton has been deployed as a pinch runner/secret weapon. Last night he got a start, however, and boy what a start it was.

Hamilton went 3 for 4 — his first three major league hits — with two walks and four stolen bases against the Astros. He is the first player to get four stolen bases in his first major league start. One of his stolen bases led to the run which broke a 4-4 tie in the 13th inning. He’s now nine-for-nine in stolen base attempts.

In just one start and a couple of pinch running appearances Hamilton is tied for 37th in the NL in stolen bases. At the rate he’s going he could finish in the top ten despite being a September callup. That would be pretty trippy.

More significantly, he has to be putting the Reds in mind of placing him on the postseason roster. Sure, he’s not going to start much, but I feel like he’d be more valuable than a couple of the back-of-the-bullpen arms Dusty Baker may otherwise be inclined to carry around.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.