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Yusei Kikuchi apparently used pine tar on brim of hat

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A minor controversy brewed during Wednesday night’s game in the Bronx between the Mariners and Yankees. Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi apparently was using pine tar he had slathered on the underside of the brim of his hat. The YES Network broadcast showed this close-up in the eighth inning:

Kikuchi pitched well, bringing a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. He held the Yankees to a lone run on three hits and a walk with three strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings.

Kikuchi’s offense with the pine tar is not in using it, but in not hiding his use of it well enough. Every team’s pitchers use pine tar to varying degrees, and hitters don’t mind that pitchers use it because it means the ball is less likely to slip out of their hands and sail towards their heads.

The Yankees, in fact, don’t care that Kikuchi was apparently using pine tar. Per Newsday’s David Lennon, outfielder Cameron Maybin said of Kikuchi’s dominating performance, “I don’t think [pine tar] had anything to do with it.” Catcher Austin Romine said (presumably incredulously), “He had stuff on his hat?”

In April 2014, then-Yankees starter Michael Pineda was famously caught using pine tar he had slathered on his neck. Major League Baseball suspended him 10 games. As Craig argued at the time, the whole zeitgeist around pine tar usage doesn’t make sense. Let’s just amend the rules to allow pitchers to use pine tar, then we don’t have to have this conversation every time it happens.

Red Sox place Chris Sale on 10-day injured list

Chris Sale
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Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale has been placed on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation, the club revealed Saturday. The assignment is retroactive to August 14. In a corresponding roster move, right-handed reliever Ryan Brasier was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

It’s an alarming development for the 30-year-old ace, who has been remarkably injury-free after dealing with a lingering case of shoulder inflammation last summer. While he hasn’t replicated the career-high results he delivered over the last two seasons, he still leads Red Sox pitchers with 3.6 fWAR and will head to the IL with a 6-11 record in 25 starts, a 4.40 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, and league-best 13.3 SO/9 through 147 1/3 innings. A timetable has not been given for his return, nor has the severity of his injury been disclosed. Per Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, Sale has been experiencing pain in his elbow since Wednesday and will undergo further evaluation in the days to come.

Brasier, 31, was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-July after pitching to mixed results in the majors. He currently holds a 4.46 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 8.0 SO/9 with the Red Sox, though his results in Triple-A — one run, one walk, and 13 strikeouts over 9 1/3 innings — suggest that he might be capable of even sharper results when he rejoins the big league club.