Was Jose Valverde throwing spitballs last night?

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I was alerted to this video via Twitter by … Dallas Latos?  Who I guess is Reds pitcher Mat Latos’ wife.  She has a blog at MLB saying so anyway. I sorta don’t care. The point of this post is the video, not who’s sending it around. And the point of the video is that it appears to show Jose Valverde doctoring up the baseball.

There are two videos, actually, one in slow motion one at full speed. They show Valverde taking the ball, put it in his glove, raising his pitching hand high in the air — classic magician’s misdirection move! — clearly working up some spit in his mouth and then bringing the glove with the ball to his face and hocking a loogie into the glove. Like, you can see the jaw muscles move and stuff.

First, video in slow motion:

Here it is at full speed:

The videos may be taken down by MLB soon. So below are a couple of captured stills. They don’t totally get it all, but know that the first one catches him in mid spit-creation:

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For the record, this came before the 1-2 pitch to Devin Mesoraco. The pitch resulted in a swinging strike. According to Brooks Baseball, the pitch was a fastball. It also had more rotation on it then the other three pitches he threw.

I’m not the vice president of major league baseball in charge of on-field affairs, so I can’t make any definitive ruling here and I’ll leave it as it stands. Two thoughts, though:

  • If it was a spitball, can anyone tell me why Valverde would even bother with Angel Hernandez behind the plate calling everything within a mile of the dish a strike? and
  • If it wasn’t a spitball, how awesome is it that Mat Latos’ wife is on Twitter stirring up crap? That would be epic, yes?

Have at it, everyone.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.