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Baseball

    In the hours leading to the final game Thursday night in a contentious home-and-home series between the Braves and Blue Jays, fallout continued from Wednesday’s wild 8-4 win by Atlanta. It included confirmation of Freddie Freeman’s fractured wrist after being hit by a pitch, a two-game suspension for a Toronto player’s use of a homophobic slur, and more criticism of Jose Bautista for his bat-flip and stares at Braves players not at all amused by the antics. >> Read more trending news Toronto center fielder Kevin Pillar was suspended two games by the Blue Jays for shouting a homophobic slur at Braves reliever Jason Motte in the seventh inning, which led to the first of two benches-and-bullpens-clearing incidents (Bautista would cause the second one just an inning later). Major League Baseball is also investigating the incident and could levy further discipline. Pillar, upset at being “quick-pitched” by Motte — Pillar struck out on the outside pitch to end the inning — shouted the slur at Motte, which was clear to anyone watching the game on television and reading Pillar’s lips, and audible to many fans in the seating sections behind home plate. Both benches and bullpens cleared as players raced onto the field, though no punches or shoving resulted before the scrum was broken up and play continued. Pillar called Motte after the game to apologize, and on his Twitter account Pillar said he’d used “inappropriate language” and that, “By doing so I had just helped extend the use of a word that has no place in baseball, in sports or anywhere in society today. I am completely and utterly embarrassed and feel horrible to have put the organization in this position.” Motte didn’t make himself available to reporters following the game or before Thursday’s series finale. Pillar wrote on his Twitter account that he had “apologized personally to Jason Motte, but also need to apologize to the Braves organization and their fans, and most importantly to the LGBTQ community for the lack of respect I displayed last night.” Part of the team’s written statement said, “The Toronto Blue Jays are extremely disappointed by the comments made by Kevin Pillar” and that “in no way is this kind of behavior accepted or tolerated, nor is it reflective of the type of inclusive organization we strive to be.”  An inning later, Bautista repeated behavior that he has, on the other hand, become known for. With similar results as previous incidents, though he didn’t get punched like he did a year ago. With the Braves leading 8-3 in the eighth inning, Bautista riled the Braves when he homered off Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty and flipped his bat. As Bautista rounded first base in front of Jace Peterson, the Braves’ fill-in first baseman shouted to Bautista to let him know what Peterson thought of the bat flip and staring at O’Flaherty. Bautista briefly looked as though he were about to stop — Peterson said Thursday it would not have been pretty if Bautista had stopped — before the Blue Jays veteran continued his trot around the bases. “That’s something that’s making the game tough to watch lately,” O’Flaherty said afterward. “It’s just turned into look-at-me stuff, it’s not even about winning anymore. Guy wants to hit a home run in a five-run game, pimp it, throw the bat around — I mean, I don’t know. It’s frustrating as a pitcher. I didn’t see it at the time, but I saw the video — he looked at me, tried to make eye contact. It’s just tired. We’ve seen it from him, though.” This wasn’t anything quite like Bautista’s over-the-top bat flip against the Rangers in the 2015 playoffs, when he tossed it at least 20 feet in the air in the direction of the Rangers dugout. But given the game situation — Braves led by five runs and bases were empty — the flip and subsequent hard stares from Bautista irked the Braves. When Bautista crossed home plate and stared at Kurt Suzuki, the Braves catcher stepped up and told him what he thought of the whole incident, too. As they two exchanged words, the benches and bullpens cleared again. Order was again restored without punches thrown or ejections. After the game, O’Flaherty delivered a withering line about Bautista: “I’m surprised he’s ready to fight again after last year. But he’s throwing some looks around so … it’s what it is.” He was referencing a famous punch May 15, 2016, when the Rangers’ Rougned Odor hit Bautista with a devastating right hand, after the Texas second baseman took offense to Bautista’s hard slide and then punished him when Bautista dared shove Odor as things escalated. If Bautista had stopped at first base Wednesday, the stage was set for a potentially similar incident with Peterson, a former college football defensive back and linebacker who wasn’t about to back down if the situation had gone next-level. “I’m not out looking to start a fight,” Peterson said. “But for me it’s just about situations, I think different situations you can handle the way the game’s going and do things differently. Bautista’s a great player. I don’t think he did it with intent, but he did it. At that moment it kind of triggered me. I felt like we were disrespected a little bit. Now it’s just time to go on and play baseball.” In the first inning Thursday, Julio Teheran threw inside on the first pitch to Bautista and hit him in the thigh with the second pitch. This time, Bautista didn’t stare at the pitcher. He trotted to first base.
  • Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has reached an agreement to sell the team to a group of investors that includes New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, according to a report from the Miami Herald on Tuesday afternoon. >> Read more trending news There are 'other details to be worked out,' but that deal would have to be approved by Major League Baseball, according to an MLB source. The source told the Herald that Bush and Jeter's group has agreed to pay $1.3 billion for the team. Though both the Marlins and the purchasing group are confident that the deal will get done, the actual process could take months to finalize. The MLB source suggested that Bush, who recently ran for the Republican nomination for president, plans to be the Marlins’ “control person,” or the individual who would have ultimate control over franchise decisions. The report suggests that Jeter, too, will have an active role with the team. This news comes just hours after Marlins president David Samson ripped to shreds a Forbes magazine report suggesting that the Bush/Jeter group was the only one interested in buying the team. Forbes had reported earlier in the day that another potential ownership group — this one including Tagg Romney, son of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine was out of the running to buy the Marlins. “As with most things published by Forbes regarding the Miami Marlins,” Samson told the Herald, “this most recent story is also inaccurate. There are inaccuracies contained in each paragraph.”
  • On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. >> Read more trending news The Dodgers had opened the 1947 season at home against the Boston Braves, and 26,623 fans attended the game at Ebbets Field. Robinson went 0-for-3 in his debut, won 5-3 by the Dodgers. He made the game’s first putout, receiving a throw from third base rookie Spider Jorgensen to retire Boston leadoff hitter Dick Culler.  Despite the inauspicious debut, Robinson would play in 151 games. He hit .297 and won the first Rookie of the Year Award. He led the National League in stolen bases with 29 and collected 175 hits as the Dodgers reached the World Series. Robinson was the first black player in the major leagues since Moses Fleet Walker played 42 games for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884. It was Walker’s only year in the majors, and no black had been on a major-league roster until Robinson debuted in 1947.  Robinson would play 10 seasons, mostly at second base. He finished with a career average of .311. He played in six World Series for the Dodgers and retired after the 1956 season. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Twenty years ago today, baseball retired Robinson’s No. 42, in a dramatic announcement madeat Shea Stadium in New York by Commissioner Bud Selig, who was flanked by Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson; and President Bill Clinton.
  • Adventurous Mariners fans can enjoy a crunchy new treat while watching games at Safeco Field this season. A concession stand will offer toasted grasshoppers, tossed in chili lime salt. A cup of the bugs will sell for $4, according to ESPN. >> Read more trending news The stand will be operated by Poquitos, a Seattle-based Mexican restaurant. The bugs are popular snacks in Mexico, according to ESPN. The toasted grasshoppers are gluten-free, according to Poquitos, and full of protein, giving them a healthy edge over more traditional ballpark fare, like hot dogs. Check out the other wacky fare being served up at ballparks across the country this season.
  • St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Stephen Piscotty left Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night after he was hit by three baseballs in one trip around the bases.  >> Read more trending news A video posted to Twitter shows the three times when Piscotty was hit ― first at bat, then as he ran to second and again when he ran home.  Piscotty was hit twice in the elbow, but the last hit to the head forced him out of the game, USA Today reported. He cleared concussion protocol and was cleared to play, ESPN reported, but Wednesday’s game against the Cubs was postponed due to rain. Piscotty went 0-for-2 in Thursday night’s 6-4 loss to Chicago.  Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Piscotty said the final blow “just stunned me.” “It wasn’t like I lost consciousness,” he said. “I was fine.”
  • Each season, Major League Baseball stadiums across the country unveil the latest and greatest gut-busters. >> Read more trending news The 2017 season is no exception. From wacky hot dogs and  spicy burgers to a cookie cart, there’s something on the menu to satisfy every baseball fan’s appetite.
  • When bees swarm, it’s best to hit the deck. >> Read more trending news During a bizarre scene in Peoria, Ariz., members of the Rockies and Padres took cover during the ninth inning of Colorado’s 10-5 victory against San Diego. Padres pitcher Trey Wingenter stepped off the mound when the horde hit, and then the 6-foot-7 right-hander dropped to a knee. Rockies batter Daniel Castro quickly followed suit, along with plate umpire Alex Tosi. The broadcast picked up someone yelling, 'Bees! Bees!'  The players stayed down for about 10 seconds, and fans gave them a cheer when they finally stood up. 'I saw something happen over here as all the players got on the ground,' Padres manager Bud Black told The Associated Press. 'It was reminiscent of Petco Park a few years ago when a beekeeper had to come down from the left-field corner. That was about a 20-30 minute delay.
  • Eight members of the Los Angeles Angels’ pitching staff combined for a no-hitter Friday night — thanks to three diving stops in the ninth inning — in a 4-0 victory against the Seattle Mariners. >> Read more trending news Angels defenders made three great defensive plays as 24-year-old Abel De Los Santos closed out the game, The Associated Press reported. First baseman C.J. Cron dived to his right for a grounder for the first out, right fielder Shane Robinson left his feet for a fly ball for the second out and then third baseman Sherman Johnson ended the game by sprawling to his left for a grounder and throwing to first. 'That defense was unbelievable,' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. 'C.J. and Robbie in right field and Sherm at third base, that's a good way to cap off a good night, with some plays like that.' Starter Bud Norris struck out two in two perfect innings, and Jose Alvarez followed with a perfect inning. Jean Segura reached on catcher interference against Cam Bedrosian in the fourth, and then Andrew Bailey threw a perfect fifth. Austin Adams walked Zach Shank during the sixth inning, and then Drew Gagnon, Justin Anderson and De Los Santos ended the game with a perfect inning each. 'It's fun for the kids,' Scioscia said. 'De Los Santos, all those kids. They've all been in camp for a long time now. I think the way it happened. You see C.J. making a great pay and Robbie and then Sherm at third, that'll be a fun night for those guys.
  • From UGA Sports Communications ATHENS, Ga. ----Georgia tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning but fell short in the 12th inning, dropping a 4-3 decision to Mercer Tuesday night at Foley Field.   Mercer first baseman Howard Joe hit the go-ahead RBI double in the top of the 12th and Georgia (7-10) was unable to match the score in the bottom of the frame to fall to 3-6 in one-run games this season. Tuesday’s contest lasted a season-long 4:15.   “I thought we played really hard; it was a really good baseball game, we just came up one play short,” Georgia’s Ike Cousins Head Coach Scott Stricklin said. “They made one more play than we did. We played good defense, I thought we had some good performances on the mound, but the walks came and got us at the end of the game. We had every chance to win that game.”   In the ninth, the Bears (14-4) went ahead 3-2 on a bases-loaded walk however, junior Keegan McGovern hit a double and sophomore Michael Curry singled him in to tie the game and extend the game. Curry and McGovern each collected three hits (3-for-5), while Curry accounted for all three Bulldog runs.   Georgia grabbed the early lead in the first inning off of a two-run double by Curry. However, the Bears answered right back in the second with two of their own on a RBI double and a RBI single. Both team’s pitching staffs stabilized from that point forward with each blanking their opponent for six consecutive innings.   Bulldogs’ starter Drew Moody only allowed one hit after the second until right-hander Blake Cairnes relieved him to start the fifth inning. Cairnes pitched three scoreless innings with four strikeouts, while Adam Goodman added a scoreless frame.   At the other end, Mercer’s Robert Broom replaced starter Chase Burks in the fifth inning. Broom pitched out of trouble in the fifth and eighth innings but the Bulldogs capitalized in the ninth. Back-to-back hits by McGovern and Curry notched the game it at 3-all.   Georgia reliever Shaefer Shepard (0-1) received the loss, while Nick Spear (4-0) earned the win.   The Bulldogs return to Foley Field Wednesday for a 4 p.m. first pitch against Presbyterian.     Dawg Tracks: - Freshman Tucker Maxwell drew a walk in the first inning, which marked the 12th consecutive game he has reached base. -Left fielder Keegan McGovern extended his hitting streak to six games with a first-inning single. - Freshman Cam Shepherd collected his first-career stolen base in the eighth inning. - Freshman Tucker Bradley pitched 2.2 innings and had three strikeouts, both career-highs. - Designated Hitter Michael Curry upped his RBI total to a team-high 20.   Coach’s Corner: Ike Cousin’s head baseball coach Scott Stricklin   On the bench energy…   “I thought our energy was great all night long, those guys were in the game from the first pitch to the last and so were they. It was an emotional game and unfortunately we came up short.”   On Wednesday’s game versus Presbyterian…   “We have to come back with more energy and find a way to get over the hump. We’re so close in these games. Losing one run games is really difficult, but we just have to keep fighting and battling and find a way to win the close ones.”
  • The late Marlins pitching ace Jose Fernandez would be a father of a baby girl today if he had survived a September boat crash off Miami Beach. Fernandez’s girlfriend, Maria Arias, gave birth Friday night to Penelope, with whom she was pregnant when Fernandez died Sept. 25, The Miami Herald reported. >>Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez has died Fernandez, who was 24 when he died, chose his daughter’s name last summer when he and Arias learned they were expecting, the Miami Herald said.