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Cardinals put Yadier Molina at third base for an inning

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No, the headline isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke.

Monday afternoon’s Cardinals-Pirates game in Pittsburgh got weird. The Pirates wasted a 4-0 lead, serving up a three-spot to the Cardinals in the seventh, then let them tie the game in the eighth. The Pirates retook the lead in the bottom half of the lead only to let the Cardinals tie it up again in the ninth.

With the teams deadlocked at five runs apiece, Matt Carpenter led off the top of the 11th against Pirates lefty Steven Brault. After working the count 2-1, Carpenter took a slider high and inside for strike two. Carpenter didn’t like the call, although the pitch did indeed appear to cross the strike zone. Brault threw another slider, outside this time, that Carpenter check-swung at. Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza sent the appeal to third base umpire Jordan Baker, who ruled that Carpenter swung for strike three. Carpenter said something that Carapazza didn’t like and was immediately ejected.

Paul Goldschmid flied out, Paul DeJong singled, pinch-hitter Matt Wieters was hit by a pitch, and Yadier Molina walked to load the bases. Nick Kingham then came in to relieve Brault. Facing Yairo Muñoz, Kingham threw a ball in the dirt that got past catcher Francisco Cervelli, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Kingham uncorked a wild pitch, but the ball took a fortuitous carom back to Cervelli, who found Molina straying a bit too far off of second base. Molina got into a rundown that eventually resulted in Wieters being tagged out at home.

That wasn’t the end of the weirdness. Because the Cardinals were now without Carpenter, the bench was short, and Wieters had to stay in the game, Molina started the bottom of the 11th at third base. It’s the first time Molina has ever appeared at a defensive position other than catcher and first base in his professional baseball career. Perhaps fortunately, the ball never found Molina. Facing right-hander John Gant, J.B. Shuck grounded out. Then, after Adam Frazier walked, Starling Marte grounded into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. The Cardinals won, 6-5.

Aaron Boone receives one-game suspension for explosive tirade

Aaron Boone
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Yankees manager Aaron Boone has been suspended and fined for his actions during Thursday’s doubleheader against the Rays. Boone was ejected from Game 1 after making contact with home plate umpire Brennan Miller and will not be available to manage the Yankees during their series opener against the Rockies on Friday.

The ejection was triggered by a missed strikeout call in the second inning of Game 1, prompting Boone to run out to home plate and deliver one of his lengthier and more bizarre rants of the season. Incensed by Miller’s shaky grasp of the strike zone, Boone repeatedly referred to his players as “f***ing savages” and told the umpire to “tighten this s**t up.”

Exactly when the illicit contact came into play remains unclear, but crew chief Gerry Davis later commented on the situation and said Boone had crossed some boundaries during his tirade. Per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch: “You’re not allowed to argue balls and strikes, so yeah. Yes he did [go too far]. That will all be in the report.”

In his own statements to the press, Boone defended his use of the word “savages,” claiming, “I always just want our guys all the time controlling the strike zone and making it hard on the pitchers. That’s something those guys take a lot of pride in as a lineup.” Several Yankees players, including Luke Voit and Aaron Judge, backed up the skipper’s decision to confront Miller as well, though Voit was the only player to explicitly support Boone’s use of the term.