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Joe Musgrove fined $1,000 for admitting he intentionally hit Chris Owings

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Last week Pirates starter Joe Musgrove plunked Chris Owings of the Diamondbacks intentionally. He did it in retaliation for his teammate, Josh Harrison, being hit with a pitch the previous half-inning. Musgrove admitted it was retaliation, in fact, saying that he did it to “protect” his teammate because “that’s how [he] was raised to play the game.”

Yesterday Major League Baseball disciplined Musgrove for that, paying him $1,000. Musgrove happily accepted the fine and said it was an acceptable price to pay for his ability to police the plunking situation.

The ridiculousness of this is that the only reason Musgrove got fined was because he admitted that it was a purpose pitch. If he had used the old saw about it “getting away from him” MLB likely would not have fined him at all. At the same time, as our Matthew Pouliot noted this morning, if Owings had charged the mound and started a fight over it, Musgrove probably would’ve been suspended for six games for setting that off. As if Musgrove is less culpable for a bad act simply because Chris Owings was better able to keep his head than some other player might’ve.

All of which is to say: Major League Baseball doesn’t care if a pitcher intentionally throws at a hitter. It’s merely concerned with how it all plays out publicly after he does so. A bad quote gets you $1,000. A bad optic in the form of a fight video gets you six games.

Video: Justin Verlander reaches career mark with 270th strikeout

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Justin Verlander is approaching the tail end of a fantastic year with the Astros — arguably one of his best in the last decade — and on Saturday, he kicked off his last regular season start at Minute Maid Park with a strikeout, his 270th of the year. While that’s still a few shy of Max Scherzer‘s league-best mark of 290, it was a new personal record for Verlander, who had yet to beat the previous career record he set with 269 strikeouts in 2009.

Verlander’s moment arrived at the top of the first inning on a seven-pitch called strikeout against the Angels’ Kole Calhoun. Cole worked a 2-2 count, then fouled off a pair of 95-MPH fastballs before missing the seventh and final pitch at the top of the strike zone.

Jose Fernandez battled twice as long in the next at-bat, albeit with far more disastrous results. His 14-pitch duel against the Astros’ righty ended when he caught a fastball on his hand and was forced to come out of the game.

After expending a total of 27 pitches in the first inning, however, Verlander returned in the second to strike out the side, then logged another pair of strikeouts in the third. With six strikeouts through three innings, he boosted his season strikeout total to 275 — just a hair above fellow Houston righty Gerrit Cole (and all other AL pitchers), who previously led the team with 272 whiffs on the year.