Astros Manager Dusty Baker Accuses Dodgers’ Joe Kelly Of ‘Dirty Baseball’
Dusty Baker, umpires
Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports

Any underlying tension between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros rose to the surface Tuesday night when Joe Kelly entered in the sixth inning and struggled with his command.

Kelly regularly missed arm side with pitches, including a 96 mph fastball that sailed over Alex Bregman’s head for ball four. It was interpreted by some as a message and retaliation for the Astros’ sign-stealing during the 2017 World Series.

Kelly refuted that, however. “It was a ball, obviously. Wasn’t my best pitch. It was ball four, walked him, and it’s never good to put a guy on when you’re late in the game,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling the greatest or most comfortable. It took me a while to hone in on my mechanics.”

Command issues continued to plague him as multiple breaking balls backed up on Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa. Kelly walked Gurriel but managed to strike out Correa on a slider low an away. They exchanged glares and words, which led to both benches clearing.

Although Kelly attributed his pitching to not having a great feel for the ball, Astros manager Dusty Baker had a different view, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today:

“You going to throw at somebody, you don’t throw at a guy’s head,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s dirty baseball. Now you’re flirting with ending his career.”

“Balls get away sometimes, but not that many in the big leagues,” Baker said.

Both teams were warned after players rushed onto the field, which further upset Baker:

“He should have warned them a long time ago — “before it got to that point,” Baker said. “Why don’t you warn him? He was the one who started this mess in the first place.”

While Correa and Kelly were at the center of a minor dustup, it can be reasoned animosity began when Michael Brantley spiked the Dodgers’ reliever. “There was contact made. I was fine. It was accidental, I suppose,” Kelly said.

But as Kelly and Brantley looked at one another, a voice from the Astros’ dugout was heard using an expletive to tell the right-hander to get back on the mound. There are some who believe it was Baker essentially shooing Kelly along.

Kelly could only confirm that something was said, but not the language nor who shouted at him. “Yeah, no fans, so it’s fun. It’s a little bit more competitive that way. I like it,” he said.

Dodgers locked in

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and several players downplayed the matchup with the Astros over the past few weeks, but there was a sense of heightened attention prior to first pitch at Minute Maid Park.

“For me, even before the game there was kind of a quiet focus, determination in the clubhouse. It was different,” Roberts said after his team’s win. “I think obviously it’s probably the opponent, and we really wanted to play well and win a game.

“The emotions, you saw what happened in the sixth inning, but I just really liked the intent behind tonight’s game. It started with Walker, and our at-bats up and down the lineup were good. I want nothing more than to win a game [Wednesday] now.”

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