UPDATE: Peace has apparently been achieved.
6:35 AM: From the Twitter feed of Brandon Phillips after last night’s marathon game against the Pirates:
No names attached, but as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer noted early this morning, there was some jawing in the game between Phillips and Pirates pitcher Jared Hughes after Hughes hit Phillips with a pitch in the eighth inning, with Hughes shouting something at Phillips. The shouting happened, Hughes, said, because after he was hit, Phillips tossed the ball back at him, which he told reporters he did not expect.
Serious business if what Phillips says is true. I’m sure there will be some MLB investigation about all of this.
Oh, and Phillips is a guest on SportsTalk tonight on the NBC Sports Network at 6PM Eastern. I presume the conversation will be a bit more interesting than the usual “we gotta play ’em one game at a time” rebop.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.