Bryce Harper, Hunter Strickland suspended for setting off Nationals-Giants brawl

He’s the most effective closer in baseball — he has converted 54 consecutive save opportunities dating to September 2015 and is 125-for-133 the past four seasons — but he’s made only nine appearances this season thanks to a forearm strain that’s landed him on the DL twice already. The only reason this problem isn’t higher on this list is his primary replacement, Brad Brach, has done a passable job in his place (10 saves in 13 opportunities). Still, Britton’s absence impacts the entire bullpen in a domino kind of way.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been suspended four games and Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland will sit out of six for their roles in a benches-clearing incident Monday at AT&T Park, Major League Baseball announced.

Strickland plunked Harper on the hip with a 98-mph fastball with his first pitch to the Nationals’ star in the eighth inning to set off a brouhaha that ended with Strickland being dragged to the Giants dugout by three of his teammates.

Both Harper and Strickland received an undisclosed fine for fighting. Harper was also knocked for charging the mound and throwing his helmet, MLB said.

The suspensions had been scheduled to be effective Tuesday night, but both players have elected to appeal. The discipline will be held in abeyance until the appeals process is complete.

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Meet Anthony Gose: Detroit’s new 99 mph-throwing left-handed pitcher

The whole Cespedes injury thing was a bit of debacle from the start. The Mets’ best hitter was clearly hampered by a sore hamstring originally tweaked on April 20, but instead of putting him on the 10-day DL, the club kept him on the active roster and played shorthanded for a couple of games. In his second game back on the field, April 27, Cespedes re-injured the hamstring running out a double against Atlanta. The Mets finally put him on the DL a day later, and he hasn’t played since. The earliest he could return is early next week.

The Mets were 8-8 after that game April 20. Since then, they’re 15-19, and currently sit 8.5 games behind the Nationals in the NL East. Of course, Cespedes’ injury hasn’t been the only one for the snakebit Mets. Speaking of that …

Tigers fans may still view Anthony Gose as the bust center fielder received in return for second baseman Devon Travis prior to the 2015 season. But Gose is making a comeback at another position.

It was no secret this spring that the Tigers were toying with the idea of converting Gose into a pitcher. After pitching for the first two months of the season in extended spring training, Gose finally got his first taste of game action with Single-A Lakeland on Monday.

Gose, who pitches left-handed, would be among the hardest-throwing lefties in MLB should his transformation work.

Pitching will be Gose’s last chance at reclaiming his MLB career. The 26-year-old is a lifetime .240 hitter with 12 home runs in 372 career at-bats.

If Gose can develop a couple more pitches to go with his fastball, he could have a chance to help Detroit’s struggling bullpen.

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Mariners honor late Chris Cornell by playing his music throughout Thursday’s game

The music world is mourning the death of Chris Cornell, who committed suicide in Detroit Wednesday night. He was 52.

That loss has hit especially hard in Seattle, Cornell’s hometown, where the vocalist and guitarist co-founded Soundgarden, pioneers of the grunge movement of the 1990s.

The Tigers edged out a tight 5-4 win against the Orioles on Wednesday, but star first baseman Miguel Cabrera was a late scratch with a new injury.

Cabrera, who previously endured a spell on the 10-day disabled list earlier this year with a right groin strain, is now dealing with a Grade 1 oblique strain.

Not good, as oblique injuries have been especially problematic in MLB this season. Though it usually takes weeks, even months to recover from oblique injuries, manager Brad Ausmus believes Cabrera will be back in 2-3 days, according to MLB.com.

If Cabrera truly is dealing with this injury, it may be best to put him on the shelf for a spell. The 11-time All-Star is batting just .248 this season with four home runs and 15 RBIs.

Obviously something to learn from, something to move on from. Don’t let it define me but really I think it was just frustration from coming off a really good homestand and really just not even being in any of these ball games, just coming out flat and not being able to build on what we were able to build on against Seattle. That just all came out in that moment.

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Angels’ Mike Trout facing surgery for torn thumb ligament

The Angels lost more than just a baseball game Sunday. They could be without their star for up to eight weeks.

Angels center fielder Mike Trout has been diagnosed with a ulnar collateral ligament tear in his left thumb after an MRI revealed the damage Monday.

Trout left Sunday’s 9-2 loss to the Marlins in the sixth inning after jamming his left thumb into second base in the fifth inning. Trout dove headfirst while completing a steal of second and tried to grasp the bag to ensure he didn’t slide past it.

Both Stripling and Ramos denied any intent on their errant pitches.

Just a first-pitch fastball in and it got away from me, Stripling said.

You saw the at-bats before, I missed some balls up and in, Ramos said. I haven’t been on the mound in five days. Ball was going all over the place, didn’t have the control that I wanted бн I wasn’t trying to hit him on purpose, but I guess they had a problem with that.

Mattingly admitted it looked bad that Cody Bellinger had just homered before Ramos hit Eibner. But he was clearly not happy the Dodgers, with a big lead late in the game, were swinging at 3-0 pitches.

It’s one of those pitches, you give up a homer and a guy gets hit, it looks bad, Mattingly said. But, also, they’re up 5-0, and swinging 3-0, if we want to actually count stuff. If you’re going to swing 3-0 when we’ve got six outs left, they got their guy out in the bullpen. They can say it however they want it, but when you swing 3-0, up 5-0 going into the eighth, you can put it however you want.

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David Price injury update: Red Sox pitcher to make season debut Memorial Day

Farrell said team would keep a tighter rein on Price’s workload initially. Still, adding David Price is always going to be a positive.

Injury issues are out of the norm for Price, who at most missed about six weeks in the middle of the 2013 season with a strained triceps. Otherwise he’s been dependable, one of the many reasons Boston gave him a seven-year, $217 million contract.

The 31-year-old shouldered the load for an injury-riddled Red Sox rotation last season, leading the majors with 35 starts and 230 innings. But his 3.99 ERA was his worst since his rookie season with Tampa Bay in 2009, and he surrendered a career-high 8.9 hits per nine innings.

Meantime, Wendelstedt huddled with crew chief Joe West, then they walked off the field, as if they were going to the headsets used in replay reviews. The umpires huddled some more and then called Fontana out ’ without using replay.

After consulting with me, [Wendelstedt] said, ’I want to change it myself. I think I erred. I think I called it too quick. I don’t want to go to replay.’ I said, ’OK, it’s your call.’ So he changed it, West told a pool reporter after the game.

Said Wendelstedt: When you’re an umpire you have to be honest with yourself. ’ And as soon as my hands went out [indicating the runner was safe], I knew that I’d missed it.

We can correct what we deem as an error, West said, and we did.

According to the Times, Angels manager Mike Scioscia received word from his video coordinator that Martinez tagged Fontana’s hand before it reached the base.

Out.

Which brings another baseball adage: You never know what you’re going to see at the ballpark.

That was new to me, Rays manager Kevin Cash said, but a lot of things are new to me sometimes.

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NCAA baseball tournament 2017: Regionals bracket, schedule for road to College World Series

The NCAA baseball tournament regionals begin this week as 64 teams travel the road to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Most of the bracket starts play Friday, June 2, with No. 1-overall seed Oregon State (49-4) facing No. 4 Holy Cross (23-27). No. 2 Nebraska (35-20-1) and No. 3 Yale (32-16) round out the four-team field in the Corvallis Regional.

While its certain more than one pitcher will crop up on Houston’s radar (Chris Archer, Yu Darvish and Ervin Santana) and multiple teams will be interested in Cole should he become available, this trade does have some legs because both sides would benefit.

By the time most of us left here yesterday, it was pretty clear that we could have played baseball. But the Cubs felt, and had information that indicated it was not going to be the case.

The sun even made a brief appearance Saturday evening, which caused an over reaction from Brewers manager Craig Counsell.

First time, for us, that we’ve had players treated for sunburn after a rainout, Counsell said.

Stearns even went as far as to suggest MLB look into the Cubs’ postponement.

One last comment from Stearns on Weathergate: If there were other reasons the game was called, that’s something that MLB should look into.

Milwaukee is surprisingly leading the National League Central, though the Cubs beat them 13-6 on Sunday.

Did the Cubs make a mistake in calling Saturday’s as early as they did? Possibly, but the Brewers are blowing it way out of proportion considering it is a 162-game season.

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Dodgers send struggling Julio Urias back to Triple-A

Think about this: Heading into the ACC Tournament, Smith has 12 homers and only eight strikeouts on the season. That’s kind of crazy, right? He might not have the raw upside of some of the players here, but he’s about as polished of a college bat as you’ll find.

He’s a prep right-hander from Texas with a huge fastball. That’s like candy for scouting directors and front-office types. Baz could easily be gone before the Phillies get to choose.

Law, Callis and Manuel all have the Brewers taking Beck here. He’s come back from a 2015 knee injury to alleviate concerns and actually improve his draft stock.

The Dodgers have sent starting pitcher Julio Urias back down to the the minor leagues after two rocky starts.

Urias, 21, was optioned after allowing 13 runs ’ 12 earned ’ in his last two starts, which rose his ERA from 1.06 to 5.40 for the MLB season.

Despite his struggles, Urias had shown enough in his first three starts this year ’ two earned runs in 17 innings ’ to be counted on to work through the glitch.

Urias still has plenty of upside as a prospect, but the Dodgers have a number of able starters currently on their roster as they work to ease the phenom into the big leagues.

It won’t be long before we see Urias pitching in a Dodgers uniform once again.

Hosmer is the most complicated case, to be honest. Feels like he’s publicly regarded as one of MLB’s elite first basemen ’ he’s a Gold Glove regular, made the 2016 AL All-Star squad and hit .351 with a .966 OPS during the magical 2014 playoff run ’ but his overall numbers don’t match that perception. He’s been Kansas City’s regular first baseman for six full seasons (not counting 2017), and here are his year-by-year fWAR numbers (the FanGraphs formula): 1.0, minus-1.7, 3.2, 0.0, 3.4, minus-0.2. Think about that.

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David Price, Red Sox to huddle after latest up-and-down rehab start

Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar has been suspended two games by the club for directing a homophobic slur toward Braves pitcher Jason Motte.

Toronto general manager Ross Atkins told reporters Thursday that Pillar’s pay for those two games will be donated to a charity.

He’ll sit out Thursday’s game against the Braves and Friday’s opener with the Orioles.

The Blue Jays and Braves got into a benches-clearing scuffle during’s Wednesday’s 8-4 Atlanta win after Pillar took exception to a pitch from Motte. Pillar used a homophobic slur toward Motte to express his frustration.

We have to sit with him and talk about what’s best for him, what’s best for us, going forward, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters (via ESPN.com) after Boston’s win over the Rangers, adding, The linescore isn’t what we’re going to see going forward. But from just answering the physical side of it, I think he’s answered that. We’ll check him in the morning and make sure there’s no physical ailments, which we don’t expect any and we’ll sit with him and map out the next step.

Price left the ballpark in Pawtucket without speaking to the media.

The nagging takeaway from Wednesday’s start: Price’s inability to put away hitters and his struggles with command. Both, according to the Globe, suggest that ’ while he is getting closer for major league competition ’ he’s still in a building phase. ’ It would come as little surprise if Price requires at least one more rehab start before returning to the big leagues.

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Watch: Twins turn rare triple play on ground ball

All eyes were on Angels slugger Albert Pujols in his attempt to hit 600 career home runs Thursday, but instead he became a part of Twins history in a rare triple play at Angel Stadium.

With Pujols on second base and Yunel Escobar on first, Angels first baseman Jefry Marte hit a sharp ground ball to Minnesota’s Miguel Sano.

The Twins third baseman stepped on his base and fired the ball to second baseman Brian Dozier, who completed the 5-4-3 triple play when he threw to Joe Mauer at first.

On Thursday night, Tebow had exactly one ball hit in his direction all game, an eighth-inning line drive toward the left-center gap that he easily cut off on a couple of hops. He fumbled the ball momentarily, though it didn’t matter. The runner from second was going to score easily anyway and Tebow picked up the ball and quickly threw it in, holding the hitter to first base.

At the plate, he’s still stiff, but he looks more comfortable than in the field. He has muscles upon muscles, which translates into solid power when he makes solid contact. Breaking balls remain an issue, though coaches say he’s improving. The idea of Tebow trying to adjust to the one-two combo of Max Scherzer’s fastball and curveball is, well, kind of amusing.

Look, I’m not a scout. I’ve played and watched and covered baseball my entire life, though, so I’ll throw out a couple of observations. Feel free to ignore them.

Tebow plays baseball very much like a guy with an adequate level of talent trying extremely hard to do everything the exact right way. There’s very little smooth in his game. Tracking baseballs in the outfield, he takes shorter, make-sure steps when others glide to a spot. Everything he does in the field — running, catching and throwing — feels mechanical and calculated.

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The home run that disappeared and didn’t count

The Fall River Brienies went from a swing and a mist to a swing and a miss.

The Brienies’ Class B New England League road game against the Lynn Leonardites on May 20, 1911, unfolded under murky conditions.

An east wind blew a thick fog from the ocean across the Lynn baseball park, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle described. The fog was so thick that persons in the grandstand could barely distinguish the outfielders.

MLB cross-promoting with an entertainment franchise is not a new concept, but the effort around Game of Thrones will be relatively big in scope.

This was something we could do on a much larger scale with a partner we’re much closer to, MLB executive vice president of business Noah Garden said. (There will be) a tremendous amount of tie-ins, not to mention what’s going to happen locally with each club.

One benefit MLB sees with associating itself with the show: Reaching the elusive millennial audience.

While the seventh season of Game of Thrones will run during baseball season, news of the cross-promotion does not bring with it an exact launch date. There are no tie-ins to the All-Star Game.

Teams planning to participate include the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Reds, White Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Royals, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Athletics, Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, Giants, Cardinals, Rangers, Rays and Nationals.

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