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.
Mets second baseman Robinson Canó is not in the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the division rival Nationals. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, it’s punishment for failing to run hard on a pair of double plays over the weekend against the Marlins.
Manager Mickey Callaway said, “He understands that it’s unacceptable to not run balls out. He understands that he needs to do that at all times.”
Canó first gaffe came in the top of the seventh inning on Friday, with his team trailing 7-3. Facing Adam Conley, Canó hit a grounder back to the pitcher, who turned a 1-6-3 double play. Canó was only halfway up the first base line when the throw got to first base.
In the fourth inning on Sunday, with the game still scoreless, Canó tapped a Sandy Alcantara pitch in the dirt. Thinking it was foul, Canó didn’t run, but catcher Chad Wallach charged and grabbed the ball while it was still in fair territory. He threw to second base for the force out and then the ball was easily whipped to first base to complete the double play as Canó still thought it was foul.
This likely wouldn’t be as big a deal as it currently is if Canó were actually producing at the plate and if the Mets weren’t in a freefall. Canó has a .245/.293/.374 batting line on the season. Meanwhile, the Mets are 20-25 and riding a five-game losing streak which includes having been shut out in each of their last two games.