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Dodgers, Astros square off in Houston

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The Dodgers and Astros are set to open a brief two-game series in Houston on Tuesday night. It’s their first meeting of the 2020 season, and their first meeting since Major League Baseball punished the Astros for their cheating scheme used in 2017 en route to a World Series, which they won over the Dodgers. Walker Buehler will oppose Framber Valdez.

There was some back-and-forth between members of the two clubs in the wake of MLB’s report on the Astros’ “banging scheme.” In mid-February, Dodgers outfielder and reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger said, “Everyone knows they stole the ring from us.” He called Astros owner Jim Crane “weak” and said that second baseman José Altuve “stole an MVP from Judge in ’17.”

Astros shortstop Carlos Correa responded the next day, saying Bellinger “either doesn’t know how to read, is really bad at reading comprehension, or is just not informed at all.” He insisted that the Astros “played clean” in 2018 and ’19. Correa also added that Altuve was “the one guy that didn’t use the trash can.”

There was some concern that the Astros would be targeted by opposing pitchers as retribution for their cheating ways — not just by the Dodgers, but the other 28 teams as well. Before the pandemic shut down the league in mid-March, commissioner Rob Manfred issued a memorandum discouraging teams from retaliating against the Astros. The pandemic has made it even tougher. In order to maintain social distancing, players and managers are not allowed to instigate altercations.

If nothing else, tonight’s matchup will at least cause us to wonder what might have been. Per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the 2017 World Series “would have been different” if the Astros hadn’t been stealing signs. He also said he didn’t expect his players to retaliate.

Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson at least had something spicy to say. Via Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times, Pederson said he doesn’t think the winner of the 2020 World Series, a pandemic-shortened season, should have an asterisk next to their name. Pederson said, “They’re not cheating their way to get there.”

Video reviews overturn 42% rate; Boston most successful

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NEW YORK (AP) Video reviews overturned 42.4% of calls checked during Major League Baseball’s shortened regular season, down slightly from 44% in 2019.

Boston was the most successful team, gaining overturned calls on 10 of 13 challenges for 76.9%. The Chicago White Sox were second, successful on eight of 11 challenges for 72.7%, followed by Kansas City at seven of 10 (70%).

Pittsburgh was the least successful at 2 of 11 (18.2%), and Toronto was 7 of 25 (28%).

Minnesota had the most challenges with 28 and was successful on nine (32.1%). The New York Yankees and Milwaukee tied for the fewest with nine each; the Yankees were successful on five (55.6%) and the Brewers three (33.3%).

MLB said Tuesday there were 468 manager challenges and 58 crew chief reviews among 526 total reviews during 898 games. The average time of a review was 1 minute, 25 seconds, up from 1:16 the previous season, when there 1,186 manager challenges and 170 crew chief reviews among 1,356 reviews during 2,429 games.

This year’s replays had 104 calls confirmed (19.8%), 181 that stood (34.4%) and 223 overturned. An additional 12 calls (2.3%) were for rules checks and six (1.1%) for recording keeping.

In 2019 there were 277 calls confirmed (12.5%), 463 that stood (34.1%) and 597 overturned. An additional nine calls (0.7%) were for rules checks and 10 (0.7%) for record keeping.

Expanded video review started in 2014.