Obstruction

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 4, Athletics 3: The Angels take a two-game lead in the west, winning this on a sac fly in the tenth. The play of the game, however, came in the ninth when Erik Aybar chopped one down the first base line. Pitcher Dan Otero and first baseman Brandon Moss converged on the ball and all three of them, more or less, were in the same place at the same time. Otero had the ball and tagged Aybar, but the umpire awarded Aybar first base, claiming Moss obstructed Aybar. Which seems odd as it appears as though Aybar went out of the baseline — way onto the infield grass, actually — in an effort to avoid being tagged and was never really near Moss. I guess the idea is that Aybar could’ve ran where Moss was, as opposed to the infield grass, if he wasn’t there. The A’s are protesting, but I doubt it has a chance given that this is technically a judgment call. Watch the play and judge for yourself:

Reds 7, Cubs 2: The Reds stole six bases, all in the first four innings, and built up an early 6-0 lead on the power of those steals, six hits and four walks. Dylan Axelrod pitched five scoreless innings, striking out eight.

Tigers 3, Yankees 2: Alex Avila knocked a walkoff RBI single with two outs to win it. The Tigers dodged a bullet in the top of the ninth when Brian McCann almost hit a homer but it hooked foul. Phil Coke then pumped fastballs by him to strike him out. Kyle Lobstein held the Yankees in check a day after David Price was beaten up like crazy. Because baseball makes sense like that.

Giants 4, Rockies 1: Yusmeiro Petit set a record: by retiring his first eight batters here he completed a string in which he had retired 46 straight batters. A record most of us didn’t see coming because six of Petit’s eight appearances in that stretch were relief appearances, but just because you didn’t toss a perfect game and then some doesn’t make it any less of a record. Overall Petit allowed one run on four hits in six innings, striking out nine.

Orioles 5, Rays 4: The O’s take three of four from the Rays and now have a seven-game lead in the East with 30 to play. J.J. Hardy put them ahead with a seventh-inning single and Steve Pearce hit a homer.

Braves 6, Mets 1: Mike Minor with a Baseball Bugs night: he hit an RBI single, doubled and scored and pitched seven innings of shutout ball before leaving in the eighth after surrendering just one run.

Indians 3, White Sox 2: Michael Bourn had three hits, two of them triples, and Carlos Carrasco allowed one run over six and two-thirds. The Tribe now heads to Kansas City for a big weekend series with the Royals. They’re four back in the wild card and five and a half back in the Central. This may be their last best chance to firmly insert themselves into the playoff picture.

Twins 11, Royals 5: Minnesota scored six times in the tenth inning, beating up Bruce Chen, who gave up five hits and walked two. Jordan Schafer — who I had no idea had wound up in Minnesota — drove in four for the Twins.

Astros 4, Rangers 2: Jason Castro hit a grand slam in the fifth to account for all of Houston’s runs. How do you account for runs anyway? Is it a LIFO or FIFO thing? That’s basically the extent of my accounting knowledge, by the way. Like, if I was asked to infiltrate a devious accountant’s cell and they held me at gunpoint, suspecting that I was a spy, my only material would be some LIFO/FIFO comment. After that, I’d probably be found floating in the Danube or something. Tough world out there.

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.