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Yovani Gallardo might have pitched himself out of a starting role

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Mariners’ right-hander Yovani Gallardo could get booted from the rotation this week, according to comments made by club manager Scott Servais on Sunday. Gallardo labored through his start against the Athletics on Saturday, expending 80 pitches in three innings and allowing two runs on five hits and two walks before getting lifted for Casey Lawrence in the fourth.

The Mariners aren’t exactly flush with starting pitchers, which makes the decision to remove Gallardo from the rotation a bit of a head-scratcher. Felix Hernandez and James Paxton are still laid up on the disabled list and likely won’t return to the mound until mid-September, while the rest of Seattle’s rotation currently ranks second-to-last in the league with a collective 5.03 ERA and 0.9 fWAR over the second half.

Pitching woes and injuries aside, however, the club entered Sunday’s series finale just 3.5 games back of a wild card spot and has a legitimate opportunity to vault over the other three AL contenders and make the postseason this year. In a non-contending season, maybe Servais would give Gallardo and his 5.79 ERA a longer leash, and maybe he wouldn’t. With the playoffs looming and a six-game stretch against the Astros and Angels fast approaching, that’s a risk the team can’t afford to take right now.

Without Gallardo, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News-Tribune speculates that left-hander Marco Gonzales could get the nod for a spot start against the Angels next weekend. Gonzales was officially ousted from the rotation on Friday to make room for Mike Leake, and his 6.20 ERA and 5.4 SO/9 haven’t inspired much confidence during a handful of outings with the team. Like Gallardo, though, Gonzales’ performance on Saturday may have done something to change the Mariners’ minds. He crafted four scoreless innings in relief, punching out five of 13 batters and allowing just two hits as the offense rallied for a late win.

No matter which pitcher the Mariners decide on, they’re already pushing toward a record-breaking number of pitchers used in a single season, with 39. It’ll take more than one successful spot start to improve their standing in the wild card race and much more than that to propel them beyond the first couple rounds of the playoffs.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during 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.