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Dodgers’ Joe Kelly suspended 8 games by MLB for incident with Astros

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Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly has been handed an eight-game suspension by Major League Baseball for his role in the benches-clearing situation that occurred at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Tuesday night. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was issued a one-game suspension and Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined, MLB announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Kelly, who threw a fastball behind Alex Bregman’s head and later taunted Carlos Correa on the way back to the dugout, will appeal his suspension. MLB cited that Kelly had previously been suspended for “intentional throwing” at a hitter in reaching its conclusion. Kelly was given a six-game suspension for an incident in April of 2018 when he hit Tyler Austin of the Yankees.

Roberts will serve his suspension during Wednesday’s series finale from Houston, prompting bench coach Bob Geren to act as the interim manager. Under the 60-game format, an eight-game suspension would account for more than 13 percent of the schedule.

Kelly denied intent after the Dodgers’ 5-2 win on Tuesday, saying: “My accuracy isn’t the best.” After his 3-0, 96-mph fastball sailed behind Bregman, Kelly also threw four pitches high to Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel and later brushed Correa back with a couple of inside curveballs. After striking Correa out, Kelly made a pouty face at Correa on his way back to the dugout. Baker claims Kelly also yelled: “Nice swing, b****.”

Speaking Wednesday, Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. had no doubts about Kelly’s intent.

“Joe Kelly threw a ball behind Bregman’s head on 3-0 on purpose,” McCullers said. “Not only did he take it upon himself to send a message, but he wasn’t even part of the team during that [2017] season. We knew coming into the game that he likes to go off script. It is what it is. It was done unprofessionally. What he did after he punched out Correa was unprofessional. Running into the dugout was unprofessional. So it is what it is. We’re here to play baseball. We just wanna win. That’s it.”

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Oakland A’s clinch third straight playoff berth, but ‘a lot bigger goals’ remain

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OAKLAND, Calif. — An AL West title will mean so much more than simply clinching a playoff berth given how the past two seasons have gone for the Oakland Athletics.

Then, the A’s might let loose and celebrate a little. But not just yet.

They secured a third straight playoff berth with Seattle’s loss to San Diego and a 6-0 win against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night, highlighted by Matt Olson‘s three-run homer.

“Clinching the playoffs is the goal every single year. Exciting, but winning the division I think is going to be a lot better for us,” winning pitcher Chris Bassitt said. “It was literally another win. We have a lot bigger goals.”

The A’s scoreboard read “POSTSEASON BOUND” high above the cardboard cutouts of fans filling the Oakland Coliseum.

Oakland is in the playoffs for the sixth time in nine seasons and now shifts its attention to the division title, which could be locked up Saturday. The A’s haven’t captured the West since 2013, winning 97 games each of the past two seasons to finish in second place behind Houston and before losing the AL Wild Card Game both years.

Olson connected in the third inning of a balanced offensive attack for the A’s in the opener of the second round of the 2020 Bay Bridge Series.

Jake Lamb‘s RBI single in the first staked Bassitt to a quick lead. The right-hander struck out seven over 6 2/3 innings to win his third straight start.

“He’s been absolutely terrific,” manager Bob Melvin said, “probably as consistent as we’ve had all year.”

Tommy La Stella and Marcus Semien also singled in runs for the A’s, who finally got a day off Thursday following a grueling stretch with 16 games in 13 days with three doubleheaders.

San Francisco hardly had to travel far to continue its road trip. The Giants were scheduled for games in Seattle earlier this week but smoke from all the West Coast wildfires created dangerous air quality and the clubs instead played at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Wednesday and Thursday. `

The A’s played a Monday doubleheader in Seattle, and players expressed concern about the air.

“The air quality is much better than we last saw it here, it certainly is better than Seattle, too,” Melvin said.

Right fielder Stephen Piscotty missed his fourth straight game with a sprained right knee. The A’s were going to put him through batting practice to determine his status for Saturday.

Also, right-hander Daniel Mengden was medically cleared from a positive COVID-19 test Aug. 28. He has been asymptomatic throughout and resumed throwing off the mound at the club’s San Jose alternate site Friday. He is slated for a simulated game Saturday.

Left-hander Jesus Luzardo starts for the A’s on Saturday afternoon, looking to end a four-start winless stretch in which he is 0-2.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols passes Willie Mays on all-time home run list

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols passed Willie Mays for fifth place on the career home run list, hitting No. 661 on Friday night against Texas.

The 40-year-old Pujols connected for a solo homer with one out in the fifth inning. He sent Wes Benjamin‘s fastball on a 1-2 count over the wall in left field.

Pujols has hit five homers this season. He tied Mays last Sunday at Colorado.

It is only Pujols’ second home run since Aug. 4. He now trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696).

The Angels quickly congratulated Pujols on Twitter.

Pujols has one more season left on his contract with the Angels after this year.

Benjamin was the 428th different pitcher Pujols homered against in his career. Only Bonds has homered against more (449).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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St. Louis Cardinals put pitcher Dakota Hudson on IL with forearm strain

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The St. Louis Cardinals have placed right-hander Dakota Hudson on the 10-day injured list with a strained right forearm.

Hudson left his start Thursday night after two innings due to what he described as discomfort in his right arm.

The 26-year-old is 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts this season.

St. Louis added right-handed reliever Nabil Crismatt to take Hudson’s roster spot. Crismatt has a 3.24 ERA in 8 1/3 innings over six appearances this season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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