Tempers flared and the benches cleared in the sixth inning of Monday night’s game between the Rangers and Astros. First, the back story.
Rangers starter Andrew Cashner hit Astros second baseman Jose Altuve with a 92.5 MPH first-pitch fastball with two outs and none on in the bottom of the first inning. Cashner would also hit first baseman Yulieski Gurriel leading off the top of the second with a 1-0, 90 MPH fastball.
In the top of the fourth inning, Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli hit a solo home run to center field with one out in the fourth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie. In the sixth, Napoli came to the plate again and Astros starter Lance McCullers threw a fastball behind him, which Napoli didn’t think was a nice idea. Both benches emptied but order was quickly restored. McCullers finished off the at-bat by striking out Napoli and appeared “fired up,” as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tells it.
It’s possible Cashner was trying to intentionally hit the Astros’ batters, but he entered Monday’s start having issued 13 unintentional walks (though no hit batsmen) in 15 1/3 innings. He doesn’t exactly have impeccable control.
The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.
A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.
Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.
The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.
Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.