The Los Angeles Dodgers held nothing back during Spring Training when discussing the Houston Astros and their sign-stealing scandal, but spent the better part of the past few weeks downplaying any added significance to the series at Minute Maid Park.
Manager Dave Roberts said there would not be any sort of retaliation, and several players spoke of keeping focused on the shortened 2020 season rather than attempting to avenge the past. However, that all changed when Joe Kelly entered in the sixth inning.
He didn’t have much command and sailed a 3-0 pitch over Alex Bregman’s head for ball four. The 96 mph forced Bregman into a crouch to avoid being hit, and his facial expression suggested there was some frustration.
“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,” Kelly said after the game when asked if he was attempting to send any sort of message.
“I wasn’t feeling the greatest or most comfortable. It took me a while to hone in on my mechanics.”
The fastball was followed by ensuing breaking balls that backed up both Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa. Kelly walked Gurriel but managed to strike out Correa on a slider in the dirt. They exchanged glares, Kelly made a mocking facial expression, and the two shouted in each other’s direction.
That prompted both benches to clear as players gathered in front of the visiting dugout. “I threw my curveball. I guess they don’t take too kind to a curveball,” Kelly surmised. “It is what it is.
“I walked a couple guys but was able to get out of the inning. Finally made one good pitch for the punch-out and was able to keep the lead where it was at. To be able to come out and win against them, they’re a good team.”
As for the pouty face he made, Kelly said, “I don’t remember the words. I guess my expression was what I interpreted in my head he was saying.”
Spiked with aggression
Lost in the dustup was Kelly getting spiked by Michael Brantley when covering first base. As they both looked at one another, a voice is heard from the Astros’ dugout of someone calling Kelly an expletive and telling him to get back on the mound.
“Yeah, no fans, so it’s fun. It’s a little bit more competitive that way. I like it,” Kelly said.
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