Chapter eight gabillion in the unwritten rules wars unfolded last night during and after the Angels-Astros game. The subject: bat flips.
The Angels beat the tar out of Astros starter Mike Fiers, lighting him up for eight runs on ten hits in three and two-thirds innings. One of the big blows against him: a two-run homer from Luis Valbuena which put the Angels up 5-0 in the first inning. In response Valbuena — who played with Fiers in Houston last year — flipped his bat, as seen in the photo above.
Fiers obviously didn’t care much for that and, in the fourth inning, threw a pitch that went a few feet over Valbuena’s head and sailed to the backstop. Home plate umpire Cory Blaser immediately warned both benches. It was clearly intentional, of course. For his part, Valbuena wasn’t rattled, as he dug back in and hit a double. He’d eventually come around to score.
After the game, Fiers took issue with the flip, saying “I took it as disrespect.” Valbeuna’s response: “I enjoyed my home run. If they want to hit me, that’s OK. But if I hit another home run, you’ll see what happens.”
Fiers, by the way, has given up 57 homers in his last 57 starts over the past two season. He should be pretty used to this by now. Giving up dongs is such a part of his being that he should be like an Inuit who has 30 words for “snow” except he has 30 words for “bat flip.”
Anyway, here’s an idea, Fiers: if you don’t like guys flipping their bats after home runs, don’t give up home runs.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.