Mike Fiers

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Mike Fiers suspended five games for throwing at Luis Valbuena

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On Wednesday night, Astros starter Mike Fiers took exception when Angels third baseman Luis Valbuna flipped his bat after hitting a home run in the first inning. Fiers threw a pitch over Valbuena’s head in the fourth inning, causing umpire Cory Blaser to issue warnings to both benches. After the game, Fiers said, “I took [the bat flip] as disrespect.”

Fiers has been suspended five games by Major League Baseball for his actions and fined an undisclosed amount, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. Fiers is not appealing his suspension, McTaggart notes, so his suspension will begin tonight. A five-game suspension for a starting pitcher really amounts to a one-game suspension since they go four games in between starts. The Astros can just push his next scheduled start back one day.

Fiers, 32, isn’t having a great season anyway. He’s 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA and a 146/62 K/BB ratio in 153 1/3 innings.

As I wrote yesterday, Major League Baseball can’t say “there’s no right or wrong way to play,” then allow pitchers to throw baseballs at players’ head for purportedly playing “the wrong way” by giving them meaningless punishments. In a perfect world, Fiers’ punishment should give him incentive to never throw at a hitter’s head again.

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

Associated Press
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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

Associated Press
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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.