Gurriel banned 5 games in 2018 for racist gesture at Darvish

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Gurriel banned 5 games in 2018 for racist gesture at Darvish

HOUSTON — Yuli Gurriel will have to sit out for making a racist gesture toward Yu Darvish -- but not during the World Series.

Major League Baseball suspended the Houston Astros first baseman on Saturday for the first five games next season. The punishment came a day after Gurriel's actions toward the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher during Game 3.

"I understand that people may have different views," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "But it was my best judgment that this timing was appropriate."

"I wanted the burden of this discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer," he said.

The Cuban-born Gurriel pulled on the corners of his eyes after homering off Darvish during Houston's 5-3 win Friday night. He also used a derogatory Spanish term in reference to Darvish, who was born in Japan.

"I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible," Gurriel said in a statement released by the Astros. "I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it."

"I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect. I would also like to apologize to the Dodgers organization, the Astros, Major League Baseball and to all fans across the game," he said.

Gurriel said Friday that he wanted to meet with Darvish to express his regret. Manfred said there would be a private apology.

Gurriel will lose $322,581 of his $12 million salary next year, which the Astros will donate to charitable causes. He also will be required to undergo sensitivity training during the offseason.

Immediately after the game, Darvish said he was angry.

"Acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world," he said in Japanese through a translator.

Darvish later tweeted "let's stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger."

Gurriel drew cheers when he batted in the second inning of Game 4 on Saturday night. He grounded into a double play.

The 33-year-old Gurriel played in Japan in 2014 and is completing his second season in the major leagues after leaving Cuba.

Darvish was born to a Japanese mother and an Iranian father. The four-time All-Star played professionally in Japan from 2005-11 before joining the Texas Rangers in 2012. He was sent to the Dodgers at this year's July 31 trade deadline.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team was "surprised and disappointed" by Gurriel's behavior and supported Manfred's decision.

"Yuli has always demonstrated respectful behavior and is extremely remorseful for his actions," Luhnow said. "Appropriately, Yuli has apologized for his gesture. He had no intention of offending anyone, but now recognizes the perceived offensiveness of his actions."

MLB suspended two players this season for using slurs. Toronto's Kevin Pillar and Oakland's Matt Joyce each were banned two games this season after making anti-gay comments. In 2012, Toronto infielder Yunel Escobar was penalized three games for a gay slur.

"That precedent is not adequate to deal with the current situation," Manfred said. "I've decided to go beyond that precedent as a statement of our disapproval of this behavior."

Manfred said he was "impressed in my conversation with Yu Darvish by his desire to move forward, and I felt that moving the suspension to the beginning of the season would help in that regard."

Said Manfred: "There is no place in our game for the behavior or any behavior like the behavior we witnessed last night."

"There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable," he said.

By imposing a penalty Gurriel and the players' union agreed not to contest, Manfred avoided a possible grievance hearing in the next few days before arbitrator Mark Irvings that would have taken attention away from the World Series.

Gurriel will be put on the restricted list next season, meaning the Astros can replace him and play with a 25-man roster.

Manfred would not compare Gurriel's actions with the Cleveland Indians' decision to keep using their Chief Wahoo logo, which has been criticized by Native Americans and others.

"I see a difference between behavior from one player directed specifically at a player and a logo," he said. "While both are problematic, I don't see them as the same issue. We continue to have conversations with the Indians about the logo, and it's an issue I intend to deal with in the offseason."

Pat Neshek irked by umpire's call, defensive shift after Phillies blow another one in Atlanta

Pat Neshek irked by umpire's call, defensive shift after Phillies blow another one in Atlanta


ATLANTA — The Phillies are one loss away from being eliminated from the National League East race after blowing a three-run lead in the seventh inning and losing, 6-5, to the Braves Friday night (see first take). The Braves can wrap up the division with a win over the Phillies Saturday afternoon.

The Phillies needed to play their best ball of the season against the Braves to stay alive in the race. They haven’t done anything close to that in the first two games of the series and frustration has set in.

You could see it in Roman Quinn’s reaction after home plate umpire Gerry Davis rung him up on a called third strike with a runner on first base to end the game.

You could see it in manager Gabe Kapler’s reaction as he rushed to Quinn’s defense (see video).

And you could hear it in reliever Pat Neshek’s voice after he allowed a single, a two-run homer to Ozzie Albies, a walk and another single en route to giving up four of the five runs that the Braves scored in the decisive bottom of the seventh inning.

“Bad pitch to Albies,” said Neshek, who had allowed just three earned runs in his previous 28 appearances this season. “I think a lot of guys in the league would hit that one out. Bad location. Bad pitch. He did a good job hitting it, but it was served on a platter.”

The Phils still had a one-run lead after the homer. Neshek walked Dansby Swanson and allowed a base hit to left to Lucas Duda.

“It’s 4-3 (after the homer) and you’re just trying to protect the game,” Neshek said. “I think Gerry Davis missed some calls to Swanson. That really [messed] me up. There were two pitches — I looked them up on and they were strikes. That changed the game. Then I get a ground ball and I think it might be a double play and there’s nobody there. Shift? I didn’t even know we had a shift.

“I felt great. It’s just a lot of weird [stuff], man. I don’t know what else to say. … I got [crapped] on. Everything kind of just didn’t work out for me.”

Kapler, who seldom shows anger, was not mad about Davis ringing up Quinn to end the game. Quinn barked at Davis and Davis fired back. That angered Kapler. He shot out of the dugout and briefly confronted Davis.

“I saw it as an emotional, young player who was very competitive in the moment and was having his say,” Kapler said. “In that particular instance, I was upset because I thought it was the right time for Gerry to not be back in his face. I think it's the job of the official there to stay composed. I was protecting Roman Quinn, who I thought should have his say there. It was not about the strike call by any stretch.”

Regardless of the reasons, these Phillies are frustrated. They led the NL East by 1½ games on Aug. 5 and have lost 27 of 42 since then. One more loss and they will be officially eliminated from the NL East chase.

Kapler still believes.

“We're going to get a win tomorrow,” he said. “I believe in every single one of these guys. We're not done. We don't want to be done.”

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Braves 6, Phillies 5: Blown lead puts this team on death's doorstep

Braves 6, Phillies 5: Blown lead puts this team on death's doorstep


ATLANTA — The Phillies are bowing out of the National League East race in spectacular fashion.

Just when it looked like they were on their way to the kind of win that could provide a little emotional fuel and keep them alive for a few more days, they fell flat on their collective face in suffering a completely disheartening 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park Friday night.

The pertinent facts:

• The Phillies rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie.

• The Braves responded quickly and with a vengeance in scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh.

• The emotional victory reduced the Braves’ magic number for winning the NL East to two. They can wrap up the division with a win over the Phillies Saturday afternoon.

House of horrors

Back in late March, the Phillies’ season started with a couple of difficult-to-swallow losses to the Braves in Atlanta. The losing has continued right up until fall’s doorstep. The Phillies are 2-6 in SunTrust Park this season.

A gift rally

The Phillies scored three times in the top of the seventh inning to take a 4-1 lead.

The rally was aided by a misplayed ball in left field by Atlanta super-rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. The misplay, on a catchable liner by Wilson Ramos, scored two runs and Jose Bautista followed with a single for a third run.

Often it’s the Phillies giving away runs with their defense. This time they benefitted from poor defense.

Briefly, at least.

The Braves taste it

The Braves overtook the Phillies in the standings in early August and there is no holding them back now. They looked completely unfazed by the Phillies' rally in the seventh and answered back with five runs in the bottom of the inning. Four of the runs were charged to veteran reliever Pat Neshek, who opened the frame by allowing a single, a two-run homer, a walk and a single.

The Braves tied the game on a double by Ender Inciarte (remember him?) against Luis Avilan and took the lead for good with two outs on a full-count, two-run single by Johan Camargo. Those two runs were huge because the Phils made it a one-run game in the bottom of the ninth. 

Nightly wastefulness

Roman Quinn had third base swiped with one out in the top of the third, but he came off the bag on his head-first slide and was tagged out.

The Phils wasted a leadoff triple by J.P. Crawford in the sixth.

A defensive shift cost the Phils their first run in the third inning.

Arrieta for the save

Jake Arrieta will get the ball Saturday afternoon as the Phils try to stave off elimination. He will be opposed by Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz.

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