If you weren’t watching baseball into the wee hours of Sunday morning, you might have missed some Bryce Harper drama at Turner Field. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains …
What’s the problem with the ‘A’ Bryce Harper?
The Nationals outfielder dragged his foot across the Braves emblem in the dirt behind home plate – in a clearly intentional move – in each of his first three trips to the batter’s box in Saturday night’s game against the Braves.
Harper has been roundly booed in each plate appearance during the series. He apparently chose to take the lack of southern hospitality out on the Georgia clay.
Here’s a Vine of Harper doing the deed, via user Atlanta Sports Guy:
That sure looks intentional, but Harper denied doing it on purpose after the game. “That’s the last thing on my mind when I’m coming to the plate,” he told James Wagner of the Washington Post. “I have no idea.”
The people running the Braves’ official Twitter account took notice …
The Nats and Braves wrap up their weekend series on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Retaliation, perhaps?
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.