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MLB fines Ariel Prieto, Diamondbacks over Apple Watch

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Yesterday it was reported that Major League Baseball was investigating Diamondbacks coach Ariel Prieto for wearing an Apple Watch in the dugout during Wednesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Rockies. The Dbacks said yesterday that Prieto inadvertently wore the watch and that it was not used for any nefarious or sign-stealing purposes. He just wears that kind of watch and neglected to take it off before game time.

The good news: MLB believes the Dbacks.

The bad news: They and Prieto are getting fined anyway. The statement from MLB:

Major League Baseball has completed its inquiry into the matter of the watch worn by Arizona Diamondbacks coach/interpreter Ariel Prieto in the dugout during the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night at Chase Field.  The inquiry was conducted by MLB’s Department of Investigations, and the findings were submitted to Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr.

MLB forensically examined Mr. Prieto’s Apple Watch and his cell phone and interviewed Mr. Prieto.  MLB found no evidence that Mr. Prieto used the Apple Watch or cell phone for any purpose in the dugout, nor any baseball-related communication on either device, during Wednesday’s game. 

Despite these findings, Mr. Prieto violated MLB’s on-field regulation by having this device in the dugout.  As a result, Mr. Prieto and the D-backs have each been fined an undisclosed amount.  The amount of the fines will in turn be donated by the Office of the Commissioner to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

So that’s that.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.