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The Thursday Takeaway

Back on July 31, the Tigers and Yankees played a very contentious game at Yankee Stadium. Players were beaned and tempers flared, but ultimately nothing came of it and you figured that cooler heads would prevail. However, as we learned from the Bryce Harper/Hunter Strickland kerfuffle earlier this season, baseball players have long memories.

Before things started to descend into chaos Thursday afternoon, the story of this game was Gary Sanchez continuing to make the month of August his own personal playground. He hit his fourth dinger of the series in the fourth inning.

Sanchez’s shot put the Yankees ahead, but when Sanchez returned to the plate in the fifth inning, Michael Fulmer plunked him.

Fulmer told reporters after the game that he didn’t mean to hit Sanchez, and the umpires didn’t issue any warnings for the initial incident during the game. So that made the ejection of Tommy Kahnle in the sixth inning a very, very curious decision on the umpires’ part.

Both benches cleared as a result of the ejection, and just when it seemed like things were starting to calm down and this would be the end of it, Austin Romine and Miguel Cabrera exchanged words. Then they decided to exchange fists, and the debris hit the fan at that point.

Once the dust cleared, the only players who got ejected were the two principal combatants (though we’ll probably see Sanchez receive a fair bit of punishment once MLB announces sanctions) and the game continued on. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for tempers to flare again. Dellin Betances has had control issues as of late, and those issues returned to the spotlight at the worst possible moment.

Even though it was clearly unintentional, the umpires had no choice but to eject Betances (which they did eventually and not immediately, which was another curious decision). Once the dust cleared from that incident, the Tigers loaded the bases, which gave Jose Iglesias the chance to release his anger in a productive manner. He hit a bases-clearing double to break the 6-6 deadlock and send Comerica Park into a frenzy.

Amazingly, that wasn’t the end of it. Alex Wilson plunked Todd Frazier in the eighth inning, and he got the hook as well. That brought the ejection tally up to eight—three Tigers and five Yankees, including manager Joe Girardi and Giardi's replacement.

Ultimately, the game ended with the Tigers doing something that they struggled to do for the entire series—they struck out Gary Sanchez. That was certainly a twist ending to one of the most absurd baseball games this season.

Quick Hits

While the undercard to the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight was going on in Detroit, there were also fireworks in Philadelphia. Fortunately this didn’t involve any physical violence and the only thing that was getting hit hard were baseballs. None of them were hit harder than Giancarlo Stanton’s 47th home run of the season.

Meanwhile, Rhys Hoskins is still on fire. He went deep in the first inning for his eighth home run in just 15 games at the major-league level, and he came through with a big-time knock in the third inning that tied the game at three. That was part of a huge inning for the Phillies and they were actually up 8-3 after four.

The fifth inning was when the Marlins decided to fight back. A.J. Ellis hit a two-run shot that brought the Marlins within three, then Christian Yelich hit an opposite-field dinger to bring the Marlins two runs away from a tie game. Those two runs eventually came thanks Philly giving up yet another inside-the-park home run. This time, J.T. Realmuto was the one who tore across the basepaths.

Realmuto added a sacrifice fly to put the Marlins ahead, and 9-8 was how this wild game ended. There weren’t any punches, but I don’t think that anybody who watched this game would be bummed about missing out on the Battle of Detroit.

***

Nearly a month ago, Robbie Ray got hit in the head with a comebacker in a scary moment. Fortunately, Ray was able to make his return on to the mound on Thursday and he didn’t disappoint. Ray only lasted five innings, but he struck out nine and the only mistake he made came at the end when he gave up a home run to Yoenis Cespedes.

On the other hand, the Mets continue to have some of the worst injury luck you will ever see. MIchael Conforto swung at a 2-0 pitch from Ray and in the process of missing he dislocated his left shoulder. I would not blame Mets fans if they were now counting the days until this season ends, because things have gone completely off of the rails for them at this point.

Oh, and the Mets lost this one 3-2. The win kept the Diamondbacks at the top of the NL Wild Card race, which is nice for them when you consider that the Rockies also held serve with a win in Kansas City.

***

Chris Sale ran into Cleveland back on August 1, and I’d imagine that it would be hard to forget about a team putting seven runs on you in just five innings after you’d run through the rest of the American League like a buzzsaw. So redemption was in the cards on Thursday for Sale, except the Indians picked up where they left off and tagged him for six runs.

The man who started the damage against the current favorite for the AL Cy Young award? Roberto Perez, who had a fearsome .200 TAv going into this game and currently has a slash line of .180/.271/.273. It was that kind of night for Sale.

Cleveland eventually blew up for 13 runs and beat Boston by seven on the evening. That included this bomb from Francisco Lindor, whose ISO is now at .203 for the season.

***

For eight innings at Minute Maid Park, the Nationals had things under control. Stephen Strasburg pitched six scoreless innings against the home team, and probably would’ve gone further if it weren’t for a bad case of leg cramps.

Washington’s bullpen did a good job of holding Houston’s offense at bay, but that changed by the time the ninth inning rolled around. Brandon Kintzler entered the game and promptly gave up three hits. Two of those were RBI knocks that tied the game at 3-3.

However, the Astros will probably want a few moments back in this game—particularly the events in the top of the 11th inning. For starters, they challenged the initial ruling that this pitch hit Ryan Zimmerman.

The Astros actually won this challenge, and Zimmerman was forced to continue the at-bat. Zimmerman struck out, but Tyler Clippard’s pitch eluded catcher Brian McCann and Zimmerman ended up taking first base anyway. Go figure.

The Nationals eventually drove in Wilmer Difo via sacrifice fly and added insurance with a single from Matt Wieters that made it 5-3, as the game eventually ended 5-4.

Defensive Play of the Day

Kevin Kiermaier is so good at patrolling center field that he was actually competing with himself for Defensive Play of the Day on Thursday. As a result, he gets the award for robbing Toronto on two separate occasions in the same inning.

What to Watch on Friday

If you haven’t gotten your fair share of the Yankees yet, then I suggest that you keep an eye on them Friday night. They will be returning to the Bronx to face off against the Mariners, who are now on the third leg of a lengthy East Coast swing. In fact, the Mariners won’t be back in Seattle until September 1, which means that they’ve still got a long way to go before they can enjoy the comfort of the West Coast again.

While the the action on the field between two teams firmly entrenched in the AL Wild Card race should be interesting enough, there’s also another wrinkle that every team will have for the weekend. It’s Players Weekend, which means that all of the teams across baseball will be wearing special uniforms to mark the occasion. So if you watch this game, you’ll get to see Corey’s Brother take on the Yankees.