Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Indians’ Plesac upset with portrayal after COVID violation

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CLEVELAND — Indians pitcher Zach Plesac feels he and teammate Mike Clevinger have been unfairly portrayed as “bad people” in the aftermath of the pitchers being quarantined by the team for violating COVID-19 protocols last weekend in Chicago.

Plesac said he posted a six-minute video on his Instagram page Thursday to ” get out the truth” to fans about his situation.

The 25-year-old acknowledged breaking team curfew last Saturday after he and Clevinger left the team hotel, went out to dinner and socialized with Plesac’s friends. Plesac had pitched earlier in the day, getting the win as the Indians beat the White Sox.

After the Indians were told by Major League Baseball security about the players being out in public, the team got a car service to drive Plesac home so he wouldn’t risk exposing himself to teammates if he had been infected by the coronavirus.

Clevinger didn’t tell the team he was with Plesac and flew home with the team.

The Indians placed the two right-handers on the restricted list Tuesday, when fellow pitcher Adam Plutko said Plesac and Clevinger had “hurt us bad. They lied to us.”

On Wednesday, manager Terry Francona said Plesac and Clevinger “got some trust to earn back and they’re gonna have to earn that back.”

Plesac maintains his actions weren’t malicious and that he and Clevinger practiced social distancing when they were with a small group at dinner and then afterward. Plesac said he has twice tested negative for the virus and understands the risks he took by going out.

While he didn’t deny breaking the team’s code of conduct implemented to keep players safe, Plesac said reports about him and Clevinger have not been fair.

“The media is terrible, man,” Plesac said in the video. “They do some evil things to create stories and make things sound better and make things sound worse.”

Plesac said he and Clevinger were within CDC guidelines when they left the team hotel and were never with “more than eight people the entire night.”

He feels he and Clevinger are being cast as “bad teammates, bad people and dragged across the mud.”

Plesac said he understands the risks with COVID-19 and that his brother has Type 1 Diabetes and his mother is a nurse.

“It breaks my heart for people to think I’m a bad teammate or a bad person. But I wanted to share with you guys that moving forward, there’s a selflessness lesson taught here and at the end of the day, I want everybody to be healthy. I want to be a good teammate. I want to win baseball games, man. That’s all I want to do.”

Privacy laws prevent the Indians from disclosing test results for Plesac and Clevinger The team has also not said if the pair will be subjected to further discipline.

Marlins clinch 1st playoff berth since 2003, beat Yanks 4-3

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK (AP) Forced from the field by COVID-19, the Miami Marlins returned with enough force to reach the playoffs for the first time since their 2003 championship.

An NL-worst 57-105 a year ago, they sealed the improbable berth on the field of the team that Miami CEO Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly once captained.

“I think this is a good lesson for everyone. It really goes back to the players believing,” Mattingly said Friday night after a 4-3, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.

Miami will start the playoffs on the road Wednesday, its first postseason game since winning the 2003 World Series as the Florida Marlins, capped by a Game 6 victory in the Bronx over Jeter and his New York teammates at the previous version of Yankee Stadium.

“We play loose. We got nothing to lose. We’re playing with house money.,” said Brandon Kintzler, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded after Jesus Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th. “We are a dangerous team. And we really don’t care if anyone says we’re overachievers.”

Miami (30-28), second behind Atlanta in the NL East, became the first team to make the playoffs in the year following a 100-loss season. The Marlins achieved the feat despite being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that prevented them from playing for more than a week.

After the final out, Marlins players ran onto the field, formed a line and exchanged non socially-distant hugs, then posed for photos across the mound.

“I can’t contain the tears, because it’s a lot of grind, a lot of passion,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “It wasn’t just the virus. Last year we lost 100 games. But we came out this year with the hope everything was going to be better. When we had the outbreak, the guys who got an opportunity to help the organization, thank you for everything you did.”

Miami was one of baseball’s great doubts at the start of the most shortened season since 1878, forced off the field when 18 players tested positive for COVID-19 following the opening series in Philadelphia.

“Yeah, we’ve been through a lot. Other teams have been through a lot, too,” Mattingly said “This just not a been a great situation. It’s just good to be able to put the game back on the map.”

New York (32-26) had already wrapped up a playoff spot but has lost four of five following a 10-game winning streak and is assured of starting the playoffs on the road. Toronto clinched a berth by beating the Yankees on Thursday.

“I don’t like any time somebody celebrates on our field or if we’re at somebody else’s place and they celebrate on their field,” Yankees star Aaron Judge said. “I’m seeing that too much.”

Mattingly captained the Yankees from 1991-95 and is in his fifth season managing the Marlins, Jeter captained the Yankees from 2003-14 as part of a career that included five World Series titles in 20 seasons and is part of the group headed by Bruce Sherman that bought the Marlins in October 2017.

Garrett Cooper, traded to the Marlins by the Yankees after the 2017 season, hit a three-run homer in the first inning off J.A. Happ.

After the Yankees tied it on Aaron Hicks‘ two-run double off Sandy Alcantara in the third and Judge’s RBI single off Yimi Garcia in the eighth following an error by the pitcher on a pickoff throw, the Marlins regained the lead with an unearned run in the 10th against Chad Green (3-3).

Jon Berti sacrificed pinch-runner Monte Harrison to third and, with the infield in, Starling Marte grounded to shortstop. Gleyber Torres ran at Harrison and threw to the plate, and catcher Kyle Higashioka‘s throw to third hit Harrison in the back, giving the Yankees a four-error night for the second time in three games.

With runners at second and third, Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly.

Brad Boxberger (1-0) walked his leadoff batter in the ninth but got Luke Voit to ground into a double play, and Kintzler held on for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Miami ended the second-longest postseason drought in the majors – the Seattle Mariners have been absent since 2001.

Miami returned Aug. 4 following an eight-day layoff with reinforcements from its alternate training site, the trade market and the waiver wire to replace the 18 players on the injured list and won its first five games.

“We’re just starting,” said Alcantara, who handed a 3-2 lead to his bullpen in the eighth. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

TOSSED

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing from the dugout in the first inning. Plate umpire John Tumpane called out Judge on a full-count slider that appeared to drop well below the knees and Boone argued during the next pitch, to Hicks, then was ejected. Television microphones caught several of Boone’s profane shouts.

“Reacting to a terrible call and then following it up,” Boone said. “Obviously, we see Aaron get called a lot on some bad ones down.”

ODD

Pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole second base in the eighth following a leadoff single by Gary Sanchez but was sent back to first because Tumpane interfered with the throw by catcher Chad Wallach. Clint Frazier struck out on the next pitch and snapped his bat over a leg.

SLOPPY

New York took the major league lead with 47 errors. Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference for the third time in five days and fourth time this month.

REMEMBERING

Mattingly thought of Jose Fernandez, the former Marlins All-Star pitcher who died four years earlier to the night at age 24 while piloting a boat that crashed. An investigation found he was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system. The night also marked the sixth anniversary of Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium.

UP NEXT

RHP Deivi Garcia (2-2, 4.88) starts Saturday for the Yankees and LHP Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.84) for the Marlins. Garcia will be making the sixth start of his rookie season.