Gleyber Torres
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The Yankees set a new single-season home run record

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After tying the all-time record for single-season home runs with their 264th homer on Friday night, the Yankees returned to break that record on Saturday. While most of their heavy hitters — Home Run Derby champions Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge included — were held out of the lineup for Saturday’s game, they found plenty of power in rookie slugger Gleyber Torres, who mashed his 24th homer of the year on a 385-footer off of the Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez.

The record-breaking blast arrived in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs and Greg Bird on third, Torres worked a 1-1 count against Rodriguez, then unleashed a long drive over the right field fence to give the Yankees a 4-1 advantage:

Torres was also instrumental in helping the Yankees tie the previous single-season home run record, though it was Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, Luke Voit, and Aaron Judge who drove in the remaining four home runs on Friday night to bring the club to an even 264 on the year. According to ESPN’s Coley Harvey, the team has now registered at least 20 homers from each spot in the batting order — and, more importantly, they’ve outpaced the 1997 Mariners, who had gone undefeated for 21 years after putting up 264 home runs prior to their run at the ALDS.

Of course, there are still 13 innings left to play this year, so if the rest of the series goes the way of Friday’s game, the Yankees may set the bar even higher by the time the regular season concludes on Sunday.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on as precedent. And, it should be noted, in doing so they gave at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?