Luis Valbuena

Associated Press

Mike Fiers calls Luis Valbuena’s bat flip “disrespectful”

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Chapter eight gabillion in the unwritten rules wars unfolded last night during and after the Angels-Astros game. The subject: bat flips.

The Angels beat the tar out of Astros starter Mike Fiers, lighting him up for eight runs on ten hits in three and two-thirds innings. One of the big blows against him: a two-run homer from Luis Valbuena which put the Angels up 5-0 in the first inning. In response Valbuena — who played with Fiers in Houston last year — flipped his bat, as seen in the photo above.

Fiers obviously didn’t care much for that and, in the fourth inning, threw a pitch that went a few feet over Valbuena’s head and sailed to the backstop. Home plate umpire Cory Blaser immediately warned both benches. It was clearly intentional, of course. For his part, Valbuena wasn’t rattled, as he dug back in and hit a double. He’d eventually come around to score.

After the game, Fiers took issue with the flip, saying “I took it as disrespect.” Valbeuna’s response: “I enjoyed my home run. If they want to hit me, that’s OK. But if I hit another home run, you’ll see what happens.”

Fiers, by the way, has given up 57 homers in his last 57 starts over the past two season. He should be pretty used to this by now. Giving up dongs is such a part of his being that he should be like an Inuit who has 30 words for “snow” except he has 30 words for “bat flip.”

Anyway, here’s an idea, Fiers: if you don’t like guys flipping their bats after home runs, don’t give up home runs.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 5, Tigers 3: They keep on winning. I wrote the game up here yesterday. Last night I got an email from an old colleague I haven’t heard from in years and years. He said the following:

“The Indians are on pace to win 100 games, which is 62% of their games (100/162). All else being equal (which is admittedly an unrealistic assumption), a team winning 62% of its games has a 62% chance of winning any one game. The chance of such team winning 21 games in a row is:

“0.62 raised to the 21st power, which is 0.000044, or 1 in 22,896.

“Usually about two teams a year win 100 games in MLB. So the likelihood of a 21-game MLB win streak is about once in every 10,000 seasons.”

I have no idea if that is accurate but it’s too good to check. Or, well, to have someone who knows anything about math to check. I’m just gonna say “neat.”

Dodgers 4, Giants 1: Two in a row! Not exactly a winning streak on par with Cleveland’s, but for the Dodgers it’s their longest winning streak since August 25. Cody Bellinger led the way here, hitting a two-run homer and tripling in a run as Yu Darvish tossed seven shutout innings. This is what the Dodgers we have come to know look like.

Athletics 7, Red Sox 3: Matt Olson hit a two-run homer in the A’s four-run first and Doug Fister and the Sox never recovered. All the talk here, of course, was the banner that someone unfurled over the Green Monster saying  “Racism is as American as Baseball.” As Bill noted last night there’s some ambiguity to that statement. It’s probably an anti-racism sign, but it’s worded somewhat poorly and, as a rule, one should not include sarcasm in a banner, which is not a tool of subtle communication. When I first saw it, my thoughts went to an old Saturday Night Live sketch from, like, 1983 or 1984, in which Ed Asner plays a retiring nuclear power technician who, as he’s leaving, tells his colleagues to always remember that “you can never put too much water in a nuclear reactor.” He leaves and they all disagree as to whether too put tons of water in or to be careful not to put too much. Anyway, that sketch is taking up brain cells that could be used to remember useful things but here we are.

Yankees 3, Rays 2: Not a pretty win — it can’t be when the starting pitcher and manager are seen arguing in the dugout during the game — but a win all the same. New York did all of its scoring in the second via RBI singles from Todd Frazier and Brett Gardner Aroldis Chapman struck out four in a four out save, even though he walked two and allowed a hit.

White Sox 5, Royals 3: Break up the White Sox, who have won five of six games and took two of three from the Royals. This one was tied at three in the ninth when Jose Abreu hit a sac fly and Avisail Garcia singled in a run. Lucas Giolito allowed only one run in six and a third. He’s been pretty good of late. The Sox are a bad team but they’ve had a lot to build on this year and have been interesting at times. That’s about all you can ask for from a club in their situation.

Braves 8, Nationals 2: The Braves scored six runs in the seventh inning, five of which were chargeable to Max Scherzer, who the Nats were trying to stretch. Guess they stretched him too far as he allowed a two-run, bases-loaded single to Dansby Swanson and then loaded the bases before reliever Brandon Kintzler gave up a grand slam to Matt Kemp. Braves starter Luiz Gohara allowed two runs — one earned — in six innings of work.

Phillies 8, Marlins 1Rhys Hoskins homered again — that’s now 17 dingers in only 33 games — and drove in three. Hoskins is the fastest player in major league history to get to 17 career homers, breaking the old record — 42 games — which was held by Boston Braves outfielder Wally Berger, set in 1930. Aaron Nola allowed only one run in seven innings, striking out 11.

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1: Baltimore breaks its six-game losing streak, picking up two quick runs in the first inning thanks to an Adam Jones RBI double and a Trey Mancini RBI triple, which in his case they should call a “trey” because, like duh. Kevin Gausman allowed one run over seven and Zach Britton got the save, rebounding from his bad night on Tuesday.

Cubs 17, Mets 5:  Albert Almora Jr. pulled a Dante — he wasn’t even supposed to be here today — coming off the bench in the seventh inning to hit a three-run homer and then hit a bases-loaded triple in the eighth. Javier Baez had four hits, including a homer. Kris Bryant had three hits and scored four runs. Ben Zobrist also scored four times. Willson Contreras had two hits and three RBI. It was a train wreck for the Mets in every conceivable way, all the way down to Matt Harvey having yet another shaky start.

Brewers 8, Pirates 2: Milwaukee keeps pace with the Cubs as Eric Thames homered, Chase Anderson pitched well on short rest and last minute replacement Brett Phillips had two hits, three RBI and nailed a runner at home plate who was trying to score on a sac fly. It was David Freese and your aunt Tilly could probably nail him even if he was sprinting, but an out is an out, man.

Reds 6, Cardinals 0: The Cardinals did not keep pace, getting shut out by Tyler Mahle and three Reds relievers. Eugenio Suarez hit a fifth inning grand slam.

Twins 3, Padres 1Eddie Rosario hit a walkoff two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th. Rosario was also responsible for the Twins’ only other run thanks to his leadoff double in the second inning. He made it to third on a wild pitch and then scored when Austin Hedges tried to throw him out but sailed the ball into left field. The Twins maintain a two-game lead for the second Wild Card.

Mariners 8, Rangers 1Mike Zunino hit two solo homers and Kyle Seager and Jean Segura drove in two as well. Mike Leake, who I forgot got traded to Seattle, allowed two runs and pitched into the sixth.

Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 2A.J. Pollock homered and drove in four runs, Paul Goldschmidt notched his 1,000th career hit and Patrick Corbin allowed one run, striking out seven in six and two-thirds. The Snakes snapped the Rockies’ six-game winning streak.

Angels 9, Astros 1: The Angels scored five runs in the first and never looked back. They scored three more in the fourth, abusing Astros starter Mike Fiers for eight runs on ten hits in all. The Angels attack featured eight extra base hits, including six doubles and homers from Luis Valbuena and Justin Upton.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 3, Phillies 2: The Nats become the first team to clinch a playoff spot this year, though they had to wait until the Braves-Marlins game ended to make it official. Here Stephen Strasburg tossed eight shutout innings — making it 34 straight scoreless innings for him — and struck out ten. It’s the Nats’ fourth division title in six years. Now all they have to do is figure out how to advance past the Division Series. Until then, at least we have this video of Anthony Rendon pouring his celebratory Budweiser down Bryce Harper‘s butt crack:

Braves 10, Marlins 8: The Braves made the Nats wait for the champagne, but they handed the division to Washington all the same with this win. Quite a late rally for the Braves who were trailing 8-5 in the ninth and then saw Rio Ruiz hit a two-run single with two outs to force extras. They then watched Lane Adams hit a two-run homer to walk things off in the 11th. Earlier the Marlins blew a 3-0 lead, then the Braves blew a 5-3 lead, so yeah it was one of those days.

Indians 3, Orioles 2: That’s 18 straight wins for Cleveland. Roberto Perez and Francisco Lindor each hit solo home runs off of Jeremy Hellickson in the bottom of the sixth to give the Tribe the lead for good. The Indians are now in a five-way tie for ninth longest winning streak of all time. Next on the list is the 1947 New York Yankees and the 1906 White Sox, each of which won 19 in a row. At the top the list: the 1916 Giants who won 26 in a row.

Cardinals 7, Pirates 0: Michael Wacha tossed eight shutout innings and Yadier Molina knocked in five runs. St. Louis has won seven of eight and move to within two games behind Chicago in the NL Central.

Brewers 3, Cubs 1: The Brewers are only two back as well after sweeping the Cubs. Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Zach Davies allowed one run over seven innings. Chicago scored three runs in the whole dang series. The last month will give us a race in the Central after all, it seems.

Rockies 8, Dodgers 1: Holy crap, the Dodgers keep losing. Ten straight now, and 15 of 16. They are the only team in baseball history to both lose 15 of 16 and win 15 of 16 in the same season, so at least their futility is accompanied by some fun trivia. Tyler Chatwood shut ’em out for five innings and three relievers did it for three more innings. Rich Hill ran out of gas at five innings and then the L.A. bullpen imploded, mostly via a Mark Reynolds grand slam, surrendered by Walker Buehler. Frankly it’d be way better if he had given it up on Saturday when L.A. dropped their ninth so we could use that video clip we all like to see when something bad happens for the ninth time. Oh, hell, I had the day off yesterday so let’s use it anyway:

Diamondbacks 3, Padres 2: J.D. Martinez hit two homers and Paul Goldschmidt hit one himself and that’s all there was. Still not gonna say that the Dodgers will choke this thing away, but the Dbacks are now only nine games back. Nine games? NINE GAMES.

Blue Jays 8, Tigers 2:  Teoscar Hernandez is not a player most of us think about all that much but he probably gave Anibal Sanchez nightmares last night after he hit two homers and drove in five. Heck, every Jays batter probably gave Sanchez nightmares after they scored seven runs on 12 hits off of him in less than five innings.

Reds 10, Mets 5: New York had a 5-2 lead heading into the seventh but the Reds tied it up with three that inning and poured it on with two more in the eighth and three more in the ninth. Highlight of the game: Reds manager Bryan Price came out to argue after one of his batters was ejected to end the top of the seventh, then halted the argument during “God Bless America,” and then put his hat back on and continued to argue after the song was over:

Rays 4, Red Sox 1: Wilson Ramos and Lucas Duda each hit a solo homer for the Rays who handed Rick Porcello his 17th loss of the year. There have been 204 20-game losers going back to 1900, but unless I’m missing one, none of them have pitched for a playoff team. Porcello’s Red Sox appear playoff bound and, if he takes all of his remaining turns, he has three starts left. I’m guessing the Sox won’t let it happen, but it sure would be something.

White Sox 8, Giants 1: I thought I had a pretty good weekend — I got a good hike in, made a couple of good meals and on Friday I met two of our commenters emeritus, Paper Lions and Historiophiliac, in actual person — but Jose Abreu hit for the cycle on Saturday and hit two homers and drove in three yesterday, so I guess he wins. Carson Fulmer — who sounds more like a quarterback than a pitcher — allowed one run over six innings and struck out nine. For the record, Paper Lions and Historiophiliac are cool people. Just thought you should know that.

Royals 11, Twins 3Brandon Moss homered and drove in four and Jason Vargas won for the first time in a good while by allowing one run over five innings. Eric Hosmer had four hits. He had 11 hits in the four-game series against the Twins.

Yankees 16, Rangers 7: Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez each hit two homers. Judge is now over 40 homers for the year, and is eight behind Mark McGwire’s rookie record. Sanchez now has 30 on the year and 50 in his first 161 big league games. That one-two punch is gonna be fun to watch for years. Meanwhile, all Didi Gregorius did was notch four hits while driving in four. The Yankees have won three straight series and stand three and a half games ahead of Minnesota for the AL’s top Wild Card spot.

Athletics 10, Astros 2: A four-game sweep of the mighty Astros by the lowly Athletics, who outscored Houston 41-15 in the series. Matt ChapmanRyon HealyBoog Powell and Matt Olson all homered and Kendall Graveman allowed one run over six. The A’s then used five pitchers to finish the final three innings because September.

Angels 5, Mariners 3Mike Trout and Luis Valbuena hit solo homers and Justin Upton hit a two-run double in the Angels’ decisive three-run eighth inning. The Angels pull to within one game of the Twins for the second Wild Card.