Eduardo Nunez

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The Twins didn’t listen to CC Sabathia’s wishes concerning bunting

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Earlier this month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia jawed at the Red Sox after Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Sabathia fielded it fine, but threw the ball away for an error. After the game, he called Nunez’s bunt “weak” and said the Red Sox should “swing the bat.” Sabathia, of course, is not that limber these days. Along with being 37 years old, the lefty has also battled knee and hamstring issues this season.

The Twins apparently didn’t hear what Sabathia had to say about bunting. After Brian Dozier singled off of Sabathia to lead off the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Joe Mauer laid down a bunt on the third base side and reached safely. Jorge Polanco then laid down a bunt of his own, also on the third base side, and was initially ruled out, but after replay review was ruled safe to load the bases with no outs.

Fortunately for Sabathia, he was able to limit the damage, getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play and inducing an inning-ending ground out from Byron Buxton. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if the Twins continue to bunt against Sabathia throughout the night.

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Dodgers 1, Padres 0: Look, the Dodgers did just fine without Clayton Kershaw. They went 23-10 in his absence, matching last year’s 91-win total and garnishing their first-place status in the NL West with a seven-game win streak. Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Hyun-Jin Ryu rounded out a mostly-healthy, mostly-dominant rotation that managed to maintain its fifth-best ranking across both leagues, only slightly tempered by a five-game losing streak at the end of August.

With Clayton Kershaw, however, the Dodgers are a different beast altogether. The lefty returned from a 40-day on the disabled list with his 16th win of the season, expending 70 pitches over seven innings of two-hit, seven-strikeout ball. Chase Utley provided the solitary RBI single of the evening, allowing the Dodgers to snap their skid and improve to a full 16 games above the second-place Diamondbacks. Heaven help the contender slated to face this pitching staff come October.

Cubs 2, Braves 0: Speaking of shutdown performances, John Lackey did his best Clayton Kershaw impression during the Cubs’ series opener on Friday afternoon. He wielded seven scoreless frames against the Braves, striking out five of 24 batters and allowing three runs in his best performance of the season. It’s a refreshing change of pace for the right-hander, who entered Friday with a 4.98 ERA and hasn’t given up fewer than five runs in an outing since August 16.

Balancing out the highlight reel? One Kyle Schwarber infield single, which inspired one of Javier Baez‘s incredible sprints in a 6.73-second dash from second base to home plate.

Red Sox 4, Yankees 1: Doug Fister and Sonny Gray matched wits — er, pitches — on Friday night, duking it out in the series opener of their final matchup of the regular season. Each hurler went seven strong, but Fister emerged a clear victor after holding the Yankees to one run and four hits, while Gray took his ninth loss of the year after issuing three home runs to Eduardo Nunez, Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez. Still, with as evenly matched as the rivals appear to be this season, there’s no reason to think the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka won’t return on Saturday to settle the score.

Reds 7, Pirates 3: First-inning back-to-back RBI doubles from Joey Votto and Adam Duvall supplied all the momentum the Reds needed on Friday, bringing them to an even 5-5 record in their last 10 games. The same couldn’t be said for the Pirates, who dropped to a season-worst nine games below .500 after a shaky five-run performance from Gerrit Cole.

Orioles 1, Blue Jays 0 (13 innings): Depending on the angle you choose, it takes a lot of skill and/or a lot of missed opportunities to shut out a team for 12 straight innings while also getting shut out. Luckily for the Orioles, they found the Blue Jays’ moment of weakness in the 13th inning, using Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop to engineer the first and only run of the four-hour, 27-minute marathon.

Schoop’s late-game heroics notwithstanding, it was Steve Pearce who took home the award for the crowd-pleasing play of the night:

Phillies 2, Marlins 1: When your team is 15 games behind the division lead, six games behind the nearest wild card spot and two below .500, you have to take your excitement where you can find it. For the Marlins, that excitement took the form of rookie left-hander Dillon Peters, who tied two impressive franchise records after striking out eight of 27 batters in seven scoreless innings during his Major League debut. The win still went to the Phillies, however, who utilized Andres Blanco‘s RBI groundout to grab the go-ahead run in the ninth.

Indians 3, Tigers 2 (Game 1): The Indians struck first during Friday’s doubleheader, vaulting over the Tigers with seven strong innings from Carlos Carrasco and a game-winning RBI single from Francisco Lindor in the ninth. The real kicker, however, came in Game 2…

Indians 10, Tigers 0 (Game 2): …when Cleveland’s offense joined forces for a 10-run spread in the first six innings, supplemented by six shutout frames from Mike Clevinger and a dominant run by the bullpen to preserve the shutout. Not only did it mark the Indians’ ninth straight win, tying a season-high streak, but it was their second doubleheader in three days following a two-game sweep of the Yankees on Wednesday.

Rangers 10, Angels 9: No lead is safe in the AL wild card race these days. The Angels discovered that the hard way on Friday, losing a one-run squeaker after Carlos Gomez scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning. The Rangers still trail the Angels by 1.5 games in the wild card standings, but look poised for a comeback after taking three of their last five games this week.

Mariners 3, Athletics 2: While we’re on the topic of wild card contenders, the Mariners kept themselves in the running after a solid debut from Mike Leake, who joined the team in a swap with the Cardinals prior to Thursday’s deadline. Leake stayed just ahead of opposing starter Sean Manaea, scattering two runs, a walk and seven strikeouts over seven innings as the Mariners cooked up a one-run lead with Kyle Seager‘s go-ahead sacrifice double play in the third. The win positioned the Mariners a mere 3.5 games back of the second wild card spot, but it won’t be an easy road to get there: entering Saturday, Orioles, Angels, Rays, Rangers and Royals are still hovering within four games of playoff contention.

Rays 3, White Sox 1: Logan Morrison generated runs for both teams on Friday, collecting his 34th home run of the season with a 407-foot blast in the first inning, allowing Kevan Smith to score on his throwing error, and taking back the lead with an RBI single in the third. From the third inning on, the Rays’ Blake Snell had everything under control, combining with the bullpen for seven consecutive scoreless innings and returning the club to .500 with their 68th win of the year.

Brewers 1, Nationals 0: Ryan Braun‘s frustrations reached a boiling point during the fourth inning of the Brewers’ series opener, feeding into a confrontation with home plate ump Mark Ripperger that led to the sixth ejection of his career.

Manager Craig Counsell backed Braun’s choice to argue balls and strikes, telling reporters, “He’s fighting and trying to get the right pitches called on him. That’s all he’s doing — he’s fighting for it.” This time, at least, it didn’t seem to hamper the club’s efforts on the field, and Jimmy Nelson drove Milwaukee to their third straight win following his career-best 11-strikeout performance.

Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 5: How’s this for dominant: Taijuan Walker distributed so many strikeouts on Friday night that he didn’t need his defense until the third inning. He whiffed eight batters for the first eight outs of the game, finishing his outing with 10 K’s and only three hits in five innings. He helped power the D-backs at the plate, too, plating a run in the second inning to bring his season totals to a career-best 10 hits and four RBI.

Cardinals 11, Giants 6: The Giants’ skid ran to four straight losses after a rare implosion from Sam Dyson, who entered the ninth inning with a 5-5 tie and left it with a four-run deficit. Albert Suarez fared little better, relieving Dyson with one out and a runner on first and promptly giving up a two-run homer.

The Cardinals now sit four games back of a wild card spot, while the Giants, uh, are trending in the opposite direction.

Mets, Astros (postponed): Few things are better than weekend baseball, but this is one of them:

Apparently it’s “weak” to bunt when CC Sabathia is pitching

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In the first inning of yesterday’s Red Sox-Yankees game, Sox second baseman Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Yankees starter CC Sabathia went to field it, picked it up but threw it away for an error, allowing Nunez to reach base. Two walks later the bases were loaded but then Sabathia bore down, struck out two batters and got out of the inning. He went on to pitch six strong ones and got the win.

After that second strikeout Sabathia was fired up and yelled something at the Sox’ dugout. Which, fine, heat of the moment and all of that. Some four hours later he was still salty about that bunt, though. Here’s what he had to say about it:

“Just kind of weak to me. It is what it is. It shows what they got over there,” Sabathia said. “It just gets you fired up. It makes you want to beat them. Obviously, I want to win every time I go out there, but even more so after that.”

Sabathia walked his next two batters. After getting consecutive strikeouts to escape a bases-loaded jam , he shouted in the direction of Boston’s dugout.

He said the Red Sox show him “too much respect.”

“Swing the bat,” the veteran pitcher said.

He added that he did not care if the Red Sox were upset and that if they take issue with him he’ll gladly fight them. So, yeah.

Sabathia said he was upset about the bunt because he believed the Sox assumed that, as a big guy, he couldn’t field his position. That’s possible, but it’s hard to deny that part of the motivation for it was because Sabathia has a gimpy knee. But either way, who cares? On what planet is it somehow “weak” or “unfair” for an opposing player to lay down a bunt?

If the tables were turned and a Red Sox hitter had an aching shoulder that, while not serious enough to keep him out of the lineup, caused him to have some difficulty getting around on inside pitches, Sabathia would most definitely bust him inside. It’s no different than a quarterback picking on a corner who looks a bit gimpy. If you’re healthy enough to be in the lineup, the opposition can and will assume that you’re healthy enough to play and should not treat you any differently than any other player.

No team is going to win a lot by bunting like crazy, but part of me wants to see Sabathia’s next opponent lay down four or five straight bunts just to get under his skin.