Russell Martin
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Russell Martin’s pitching appearance was one for the history books

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After a nailbiter of a loss on Friday, the Dodgers returned to their winning ways with an 18-5 lead heading into the ninth inning of Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks. Wonderful things happen when a team is that confident of a win — by ‘wonderful things,’ we mean position players pitching — and this was no exception. With three outs to go and a comfortable 13-run lead to preserve, Los Angeles skipper Dave Roberts handed the ball to catcher Russell Martin.

Martin didn’t disappoint. He wielded eight pitches to induce back-to-back groundouts from Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed, and needed just two more to retire John Ryan Murphy on a long fly ball to center field.

Not too shabby for a full-time catcher whose last pitching appearance predated his professional career.

According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, Martin’s 1-2-3 ninth inning performance — and subsequent team win — was the first by a full-time position player since 1925. It was also the first time a position player had been tabbed to close out a win since left fielder Willie Smith did so for the Tigers in 1963.

While Roberts may not make a habit of turning to Martin for future pitching opportunities, it certainly made for an entertaining finish to the team’s dominant run on Saturday. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play their fourth and final game of the series at 4:10 PM EDT on Sunday, with right-handers Walker Buehler and Luke Weaver set to square off on the mound.

MLB calls umpire union statement about Manny Machado discipline “inappropriate”

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Earlier today the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association made multiple posts on social media registering its displeasure at what it feels was the league’s weak discipline of Manny Machado following his run-in with umpire Bill Welke. It was an unusual statement, as it’s not common for umpires, individual or via their union to comment on such matters.

This evening, in an official statement, the league called it inappropriate:

“Manny Machado was suspended by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, who considered all the facts and circumstances of Machado’s conduct, including precedent, in determining the appropriate level of discipline.  Mr. Machado is appealing his suspension and we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association, just as it would not be appropriate for the Players Association to comment on disciplinary decisions made with respect to umpires.  We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”

That final bit, about workplace violence, is something that I didn’t really consider when I read the umps’ statements, but it’s a damn good point. In an age where people are literally shooting up workplaces, umpires making reference to that kind of thing in response to a player throwing a bat is pretty rich indeed. And in pretty poor taste.