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Benches clear during Rangers-Astros game

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Tempers flared and the benches cleared in the sixth inning of Monday night’s game between the Rangers and Astros. First, the back story.

Rangers starter Andrew Cashner hit Astros second baseman Jose Altuve with a 92.5 MPH first-pitch fastball with two outs and none on in the bottom of the first inning. Cashner would also hit first baseman Yulieski Gurriel leading off the top of the second with a 1-0, 90 MPH fastball.

In the top of the fourth inning, Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli hit a solo home run to center field with one out in the fourth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie. In the sixth, Napoli came to the plate again and Astros starter Lance McCullers threw a fastball behind him, which Napoli didn’t think was a nice idea. Both benches emptied but order was quickly restored. McCullers finished off the at-bat by striking out Napoli and appeared “fired up,” as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tells it.

It’s possible Cashner was trying to intentionally hit the Astros’ batters, but he entered Monday’s start having issued 13 unintentional walks (though no hit batsmen) in 15 1/3 innings. He doesn’t exactly have impeccable control.

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Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.