Phillip Ervin
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Video: Phillip Ervin ties 70-year-old franchise record

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In a game that began with a three-hour thunderstorm delay and ended with an incredible 17-9 rout of the Rockies, Reds left fielder Phillip Ervin collected six hits — not only reaching a personal career high, but accomplishing something no other Reds player had managed to pull off since the summer of 1949.

For his first hit of the night, Ervin hit back-to-back singles with Yasiel Puig to start the second inning, later coming around to score on José Peraza’s RBI base hit. He returned in the third with a two-out RBI triple, grabbing a slider from Kyle Freeland and depositing it in deep right-center field, where David Dahl‘s missed catch gave him some extra time to scoot around the bases.

Following a pitching change in the fifth, Ervin collected a double off of Chad Bettis, then added two more base hits in the sixth and seventh as the Reds climbed to an eight-run lead. With five hits under his belt, just one home run shy of hitting for the cycle, the outfielder stepped up to bat one last time in the ninth. He worked a 2-2 count against Bryan Shaw, then lashed a 91.2-m.p.h. cutter out to the left field corner for his sixth and final base hit of the night.

While the cycle may have eluded him in the end, Ervin’s feat is still a remarkable one. Just one other player has collected as many hits in a single game this season — the Brewers’ Ryan Braun did so in an 18-inning nail-biter against the Mets back in May — and, per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Ervin is the first to do so in a regulation nine-inning game. He’s also the first player to pull off a six-hit performance with fewer than 100 hits under his belt since the Dodgers’ Paul Lo Duca in 2001.

Through Saturday, Ervin is batting .357/.410/.571 with seven extra-base hits, nine RBI, and a .981 OPS through 61 plate appearances.

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.