Just when you thought there could be nothing more shocking, stupid, or staggering coming out of Fenway Park, the Red Sox and the Orioles had do go and do something completely unexpected Thursday night. They went out and played a baseball game. Just baseball. Nobody tried yet again to re-enact The Wild Ones.
The good news from Boston Wednesday: Manny Machado got to play a game against the Red Sox without one pitch sailing anywhere near him other than around the plate. The bad news: Orioles starter Kevin Gausman couldn’t resist opening the second inning by throwing the first pitch at Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts’s hind quarters.
Someone needs to read these Red Sox the riot act. Or, at least, Tuesday night starting pitcher Chris Sale. First, Sale joined Fenway Park fans in showing Adam Jones of the Orioles some respect his first time up, in the top of the first, after Monday’s disgrace. Then, when Manny Machado batted right after Jones, same inning, Sale tried to kneecap Machado with a pitch.
Clay Buchholz, Phillies pitcher, recuperating from surgery to repair a small tear in his flexor pronator mass, showed up at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday to see the Phillies tangle with the Marlins. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, a sober reporter, reported Buchholz apologised to general manager Matt Klentak “and others.”
Apologised, mind you.
Another sober reporter, NBC’s Bill Baer, says Buchholz was out of line. Not in the way you usually think when you see that phrase. “It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job,” Baer writes.
I wonder if anyone noticed something during the Red Sox-Orioles series ender Sunday. Not Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes trying to decapitate Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the eighth inning, but the way the Orioles handled the would-be brain scrambler.
They did nothing.
Machado, who isn’t exactly a shrinking violet when it comes to confronting pitchers he thinks get out of line with him, didn’t move a muscle toward Barnes.
How Tuesday ended with one National League club all but eliminated from the postseason, another contender setting some home run records, a third contender showing a couple of vulnerabilities that might prove fateful come postseason time, and a couple of crazy (and heretofore unlikely) American League wild card sharps getting a little crazier . . .
Certain recent whispers have had the Royals thinking the once-unthinkable and moving Yordano Ventura. Yahoo! Sports’s Jeff Passan cites a pair of unidentified executives saying the Royals have offered Ventura in trade talks over the past month. The issue isn’t Ventura’s arm or stuff, it’s his head and the five-year-old mind inside, a mind exposed further Tuesday in Baltimore.
This one you simply can’t paper over, try though you might. Just keep your eye on Bryce Harper today. If the Nationals’ and maybe the National League’s best player this season gets drilled, you can thank his teammate Jonathan Papelbon—then ponder whether the Nats have plans to ship him off in the offseason to anyone who’ll have him.
News flash: The Royals’ bullpen is only human, after all. And the Orioles actually have pulses. If you don’t believe me, you weren’t in Camden Yards Friday night. For the eighth inning especially.
These were the Orioles who’d dropped sixteen of their previous 22, were six out of the American League wild card race, and started the bottom of the eighth in the hole 6-4. The Orioles whose manager said the team planned to win 23 straight from Friday forward.
What to take away from the All-Star Game other than the American League’s 6-3 win and thus home field advantage for this year’s World Series? The Mike Trout Show?
* Trout (Angels) became the first player in 38 years to lead off an All-Star Game going deep, hitting Zack Greinke’s (Dodgers) fourth pitch the other way, into the right field seats next to the Great American Ballpark visitors’ bullpen. Add scoring ahead of a powerful throw by Joc Pedersen (Dodgers) on Prince Fielder’s (Rangers) single in the fifth, and Trout—who’d reached base in the first place by beating out what might have been a double play finisher—joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Gary Carter as baseball’s only two-time All-Star Game MVPs.