James McCann

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UPDATE: MLB determines the Tigers did not hit umpire Quinn Wolcott on purpose

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UPDATE: Major League Baseball has just released a statement, saying it has determined that the Tigers did not hit umpire Quinn Wolcott on purpose on Wednesday:

“MLB takes seriously the safety of on-field personnel — players, coaches and umpires alike — and has thoroughly reviewed the incident. Upon completion of that review, Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre has concluded that no Tigers player intended for the pitch to hit Umpire Wolcott, and therefor no discipline will be issued.”

10:36 AM: On Wednesday afternoon, during the Tigers-Indians game, home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott ejected Tigers catcher James McCann and then ejected manager Brad Ausmus over their arguing of balls and strikes. At one point the argument got a bit pointed, with Ausmus suggesting that Wolcott was caught up in the Indians winning streak and giving them preferable calls. That’s gonna earn you your ejection, obviously.

With McCann gone, backup catcher James Hicks came into the game.  A few pitches later, a Buck Farmer pitch sailed on Hicks, he missed it entirely and it hit Wolcott, shaking him up. While a few people — including analyst Dallas Braden — speculated online that maybe Hicks let the ball get through in order to intentionally hit Wolcott, Ausmus dismissed that as “ridiculous.” For my part, it just seemed like a pitch with an unusual amount of action on it, missed by a catcher who was unexpectedly inserted into the game moments before. An accident.

The Associated Press is reporting this morning, however, that Major League Baseball is investigating the matter, in an effort to determine if it was, in fact, intentional. I suspect this is being done at the instigation of Wolcott or the umpire’s union because, as the AP reports, as he was being examined by a trainer, he said “They didn’t do it on purpose, did they?”

Judge for yourself here:

 

Indians win their 21st game in a row

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The Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers this afternoon to take their 21st straight game, setting a new American League record for consecutive wins. The previous record, as we have noted, was held by the 2002 Oakland Athletics.

Cleveland fell behind 1-0 in the first inning but roared back to take a 3-1 lead thanks to a three-run homer by Jay Bruce in the bottom half of the inning. They added another run via an Edwin Encarnacion RBI single in the third. The Tigers brought it to within one run in the sixth thanks to RBIs from Nicholas Castellanos and Andrew Romine, but Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez‘s homer in the seventh put the Tribe up by two. Maybe it could’ve been more than a 5-3 margin, but Carlos Santana was thrown out by about 20 feet trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park homer to end the bottom of the eighth. Can’t blame the Indians for feeling frisky lately.

Two interesting things of note during this game. In the bottom of the third, both Tigers catcher James McCann and manager Brad Ausmus were ejected for arguing balls and strikes. During the argument, Ausmus could be overheard yelling “Don’t get caught up in them winning 20 games!” which yeah, is the sort of thing that’ll get you tossed. Right after that, the home plate umpire was hit when replacement catcher John Hicks couldn’t snag a trailing fastball. Dallas Braden, for his part, thought that it may have been an intentional miss by Hicks in order to get the ump smacked:

I won’t go that far — it was a pitch with a lot of movement and the catcher had just entered the game, not really expecting to play — but viva conspiracies.

Later the sprinklers at Progressive Field went off in the middle of the game:

As for the streak: in addition to the American League record, the 21st straight win ties the mark set by the 1935 Chicago Cubs which, until now, we’ve been referring to as the all-time record winning streak. The reasoning for that: most sources have noted that a longer unbeaten streak — 26 straight by the 1916 New York Giants — was interrupted by a tie, called due to darkness, in the middle of the run. Based on that, we’ve been content to call the Cubs’ mark the record.

As Chris Cwik of Yahoo wrote a couple of hours ago, though, there’s a strong argument that the tie shouldn’t matter and that the Giants should be credited with the longest winning streak. Read Chris’ article for the full explanation, but the short version is that the tie didn’t really count. They played a doubleheader the next day and the Giants won ’em both. Without taking anything away from the 1935 Cubs or the 2017 Indians, I think the Giants have a better claim to the all-time record.

Whatever you think about that, though — and depending on what Major League Baseball says about it if it actually weighs in on it — what the Indians are doing right now is undeniably great. Tomorrow they host Kansas City for a shot at 22.

Tigers will monitor James McCann for concussion after beaning, home plate collision

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The Detroit News’ Chris McCosky reports that the Tigers are monitoring James McCann for signs of a concussion after the catcher was roughed up in back-to-back incidents on Thursday and Friday. There’s no talk of a disabled list stint yet, nor has McCann reported any cases of nausea or dizziness, but he told reporters Saturday that sometimes the symptoms can be latent.

McCann was shaken up on a hit by pitch during Thursday’s 10-6 win over the Yankees, when a 98-MPH fastball from Dellin Betances clocked him in the head. The pitch immediately felled the catcher, who laid on the ground for several moments before standing and eventually taking his base. With emotions still running high from the previous inning’s brawl, Betances was ejected.

The second incident followed in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ series opener against the White Sox. McCann tag teamed with second baseman Ian Kinsler to catch Yolmer Sanchez as he attempted to steal home, resulting in a hard — though not illegal — collision at the plate.

While the Tigers haven’t been treating their backstop with kid gloves, they can’t afford to lose him if they intend to make a last-ditch effort to enter the AL wild card race next month. McCann isn’t just a fixture behind the dish; he’s been one of the hottest hitters in Detroit’s lineup during the second half, too, and entered Saturday’s game slashing .330/.388/.472 with three home runs and an .860 OPS through 116 PA.

Whatever the extent of head athletic trainer Kevin Rand’s concerns, it wasn’t enough to sideline McCann through the rest of the weekend series. He’s scheduled to start behind the plate when the Tigers take on the White Sox for Game 2 at 7:10 ET.