Tigers’ Hinch sends ‘message’ by benching Javier Báez

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO – Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez was removed from Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays after he lost track of how many outs there were and ran into a double play.

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch removed Báez in the third, one inning after Báez’s gaffe on the bases.

“If you watch the last couple of series, we’ve made a number of mental mistakes, and the one thing we can control is our preparedness and our readiness,” Hinch said after the Tigers’ 3-1 victory. “It’s a message to our whole team that we’ve got to clean that up.”

Facing Chris Bassitt, Báez doubled off the left-field wall with one out in the second for his first extra-base hit this season. Báez didn’t run hard out of the batter’s box, apparently thinking he had homered.

Báez broke for third and rounded the base on Akil Baddoo’s liner to center and was easily doubled up for the third out.

“My mind is everywhere right now,” Báez said. “I’m just trying to focus on my hitting and my timing and other stuff.”

Báez said the reason he lost track of the outs was he was hitting sixth, lower in the lineup that usual, and believed he was Detroit’s third batter of the inning.

Between innings, television cameras caught Hinch and Báez descending the steps that lead from the dugout to the clubhouse for a brief chat. Báez returned to the dugout, grabbed his glove, untucked his shirt and left again.

“Obviously we’ve got to show respect to the game,” Báez said. “He took a decision and I respect that. He’s the manager and we’ve got to respect what he does.”

Hinch said it was “very rare” for Báez to make such a blunder.

“He’s one of the better baseball minds on our team,” Hinch said. “It’s a big move because we take a potent bat out of our lineup.”

This wasn’t the first time Báez has been benched for a baserunning gaffe. In 2021, Cubs manager David Ross removed Báez from a game against Cleveland when Báez was doubled off after running from first to third with one out.

Báez signed a $140 million, six-year contract with Detroit in December 2021. He hit .238 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs in 144 games last season.

Hinch said Báez would return to the lineup for Friday’s home game against San Francisco, adding that the decision to bench him wasn’t easy.

“I don’t want to embarrass anybody,” Hinch said. “I don’t want to lessen our bench. I don’t want to take out one of our starters. He’s a premium player. But I also don’t want to see a team make mental mistakes.”

Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson said he had no issue with Hinch making an example of Báez.

“It shows you that it doesn’t matter what your name is, you will get disciplined,” Torkelson said. “I don’t know what guys think about that in the clubhouse but I think that’s the right thing to do.”

Báez said his poor performance so far this season may have factored into Hinch’s decision to take him out of the game.

“Anybody can make mistakes,” Báez said. “At this point, the way we’re playing and the way I’m playing, it’s obviously going to be worse. If I’m hot and I have seven homers and I make that same mistake, I would have stayed in the game. I’ve got no excuses. It’s just part of the game.”

Jonathan Schoop entered at third base in the bottom of the third, with Nick Maton moving from third to shortstop.

Neither Matt Vierling nor Eric Haase was in Detroit’s starting lineup Thursday. Both Vierling and Haase were thrown out on the bases in Wednesday’s 4-3, 10-inning loss. Vierling came on in the seventh as a pinch-hitter and finished the game in right field.

Nationals blow 6-run lead, rebound to beat Phillies 8-7

Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) Lane Thomas singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals sent the Philadelphia Phillies to their fifth straight loss, winning 8-7 after blowing a six-run lead.

The defending NL champion Phillies have just five victories in their last 18 games and are tied with the Nationals at the bottom of the NL East at 25-32.

“We’ve got to overcome it,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got to play better, get consistent in all phases and keep moving forward.”

Alex Call drew a two-out walk against Connor Brogdon (2-1) in the eighth, stole second on a low pitch that catcher JT Realmuto couldn’t make a throw on and scored on Thomas’ single to right center.

“The way Lane’s swinging the bat, if you can get on second base, we can win the game,” Call said. “I look over and the ball’s in the dirt, he doesn’t catch it. Now I’m saying: ‘All right, Lane. Come on!’”

Kyle Finnegan (3-2) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the victory, stranding the tying run on second in the ninth.

Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, doubled and drove in five runs for Philadelphia, which had scored just three runs in its past three games.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives as a group,” Castellanos said. “Showing some fight. It would have been really, really easy to lay down and allow the way the game started to be the way that it finished.”

Down 7-1 after four innings, Philadelphia tied it at 7 in the eighth. Brandon Marsh worked a nine-pitch walk against Mason Thompson leading off, and Drew Ellis singled with one out. Finnegan came on to face Kyle Schwarber, who hit a ground ball up the middle. Shortstop CJ Abrams fielded it behind it behind second base, touched second for one out, but threw wildly to first and Marsh came home with the tying run.

Castellanos’s second homer, a two-run shot to center in the sixth, pulled the Phillies to 7-3 and Marsh added an RBI single in the inning.

In the seventh, Schwarber doubled with one out and Bryson Scott reached on an infield single. Hunter Harvey came on and walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Castellanos singled to center scoring two runs to make it 7-6.

Luis Garcia homered and Jeimer Candelario doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Nationals, who have won seven of 12.

Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, coming off eight shutout innings against Atlanta, allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

“This one’s on me really,” Wheeler said. “Guys battled back. Just couldn’t finish it out. We know who we have in this room and what we’ve got to do.”

Josiah Gray gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings for Washington.

Candelario doubled just beyond the reach of left fielder Schwarber to drive in the first of Washington’s two runs in the first.

In the second, Abrams hit a one-out drive to deep center that Marsh misplayed into a double. With two outs and two on, Candelario doubled off the wall in right center to make it 5-0.

Garcia ended Wheeler’s night with a solo homer in the fourth.

“When you come out the way we did, you’ve got to tack on,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It didn’t happen tonight, but we got one more than the other guys.”


Candelario is 9 for 26 (.346) with four doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, five walks, and seven runs scored in his last seven games.


Phillies: Thomson said RHP Taijuan Walker played catch Friday and there are “no worries about his next start.” In a four-inning outing against the Mets on Thursday, Walker’s sinker velocity averaged 90.6 mph, down from 92.7 mph for the season. His fastball, splitter and curveball velocity also dropped.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles (back spasms) took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the injured list. … LHP Sean Doolittle (elbow) gave up a run on two hits and struck out two batters in 2/3 of an inning working his second straight night for Class A Fredericksburg.


Phillies: LHP Matt Strahm (4-3, 3.20) will start a bullpen game on Saturday.

Nationals: LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-3, 3.57) went seven innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters in his previous outing – a no decision against the Royals.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports