Roberto Hernandez was ejected without a warning for hitting Starlin Castro with a pitch

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Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez was ejected after hitting Starlin Castro with a first-pitch fastball with two outs and the bases empty in the sixth inning of Friday night’s contest. Castro had homered off of Hernandez in the fourth inning, putting the Cubs up 2-0.

Home plate umpire Mark Ripperger must have assumed Hernandez was steaming from the home run, but Castro didn’t celebrate his home run in any way. He gazed out at it, but only to see if it had the distance, as it eventually landed just barely over the fence in left field. Hernandez also reacted immediately with disdain that he allowed the pitch to slip away the way it did. Here’s the video.

Ripperger hesitated for a few seconds, ostensibly mulling if he should issue warnings to both dugouts, but opted instead to eject Hernandez immediately. Hernandez could be seen responding, “me?” to Ripperger. Manager Ryne Sandberg came out to argue the decision to immediately eject Hernandez, and he too was ejected. Compare Ripperger’s itchy trigger finger to home plate umpire Dan Bellino’s in a May 30 match-up between the Rays and Red Sox in which David Price hit two Red Sox with pitches in what was a contentious game from the start. Four Red Sox were ejected, but Price was not.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.