Ryan Yarbrough
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Rays lose combined perfecto in ninth

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Just two days after the Angels pulled off an emotional combined no-hitter against the Mariners, the Rays started working on their own combined no-no. During Sunday’s series finale against the Orioles, right-hander and ‘opener’ Ryne Stanek and lefty Ryan Yarbrough tossed eight perfect innings.

Stanek took the mound for the first two innings, issuing back-to-back strikeouts to Jonathan Villar and Anthony Santander to kick off the first. He induced three straight outs in the second before handing the ball off to Yarbrough in the third, who maintained the perfecto through the next six innings with five strikeouts and 76 pitches.

Behind Stanek and Yarbrough, the Rays’ offense mustered up four runs of support following Joey Wendle‘s sacrifice fly in the second, Austin Meadow’s solo shot in the third, and a two-run bomb from Michael Brosseau in the sixth.

In the ninth, just three outs away from making history, Yarbrough lost the perfecto—and the no-hitter. The first pitch he served up—an 85.4-m.p.h. cutter in the middle of the zone—was promptly delivered to right field by Hanser Alberto; then, to add insult to injury, Stevie Wilkerson laced his own first-pitch single off of Yarbrough in the next at-bat. Yarbrough followed up the back-to-back hits with a four-pitch strikeout to Chance Sisco, his sixth of the afternoon, but then made a hasty exit from the mound as Oliver Drake came in to pitch.

Had Stanek and Yarbrough completed the feat, they would have been the first pitchers to do so for the Rays since Matt Garza tossed a no-hitter against the Tigers in 2010. It would have also marked the first combined perfect game, both in franchise history and the history of Major League Baseball as well.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.