Angels protest Astros’ illegal switch, win game anyway

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Here’s a new one: with the Angels batting with two on and two out in the seventh inning Thursday, the Astros went to bring in left-hander Wesley Wright to face left-hander J.B. Shuck. The Angels promptly countered with right-handed hitting Luis Jimenez.

And then the Astros suddenly countered with right-hander Hector Ambriz.

If that sounds unusual, well, it is. If it sounds illegal, well, it’s that, too. Except Astros rookie manager Bo Porter didn’t know it. And it seems Fieldin Culbreth’s umpiring crew didn’t know it either, even with Angels manager Mike Scioscia loudly pointing it out several times before play finally resumed several minutes later.

Make no mistake, Wright was in the game. He threw several warmup pitches before Porter went out to bring in Ambriz instead. That, of course, isn’t allowed, according to Rule 3.05. Barring an injury, any pitcher that enters a game has to face at least one batter. It’s a fairly well known rule, one that would surely be exploited frequently if it didn’t exist.

The Angels, down 5-3 at the time, immediately protested the game. It’s a protest that might have actually been upheld by the league, given that it the mistake was entirely an umpire’s error, with no judgment call being involved. Except now we’ll never find out. While Ambriz was able to escape the jam in the seventh after the illegal switch, the Angels came back and scored three runs in the eighth and won the game 6-5, essentially rendering the protest null and void.

In one way, that’s probably for the best; the Astros didn’t deserve to benefit from their illegal move. Still, it is rather too bad we didn’t see MLB’s first successful protest since 1986. Had the protest been upheld, the game would have restarted from the moment the illegal move was made, with Wright back on the mound and the Angels trailing in the top of the seventh inning.

Matt Davidson to train to be a two-way player this offseason

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Look out Shohei Ohtani, someone is stealing your bit.

White Sox corner guy/DH Matt Davidson pitched three innings in three appearances in 2018. He was pretty good too, blanking the opposition, facing 11 batters, allowing one hit and striking out two. That’s not too bad for a 27-year-old guy who hasn’t pitched since high school. In fact, it’s good enough that, according to 670 The Score, the White Sox have given him the OK to do some serious pitching work this offseason in an attempt to become a two-way player next year.

There’s nothing certain about it — the Sox will see where he’s at after he puts some work in and decide whether or not to let him continue — but it’s notable that they’re entertaining the idea. And says a lot about just how much teams have come to value bullpen arms.

On offense Davidson hit .228/.319/.419 with 20 homers and 62 RBI on the year. That’s not exactly setting the world on fire for a guy with little defensive value, but marry it up with the skills to pitch an inning or two of relief here and there and maybe you got something.