Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr.: Dodgers’ Joe Kelly ‘Scared’ Of Carlos Correa
Cody Bellinger, Carlos Correa, Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Dodgers, Astros, benches clear
Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers completed a two-game series sweep of the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park last month, and it didn’t come without some fireworks in the opening contest.

After sailing a pitch over Alex Bregman’s head and backing up Yuli Gurriel with a breaking ball, Kelly struck out Correa to complete a scoreless sixth inning. The two exchanged glares and shouted in each other’s direction, prompting benches to clear.

Kelly denied afterward that he intentionally tried to hit any of the Astros’ batters, but MLB felt otherwise. He was initially suspended eight games, but that has since been reduced to five after the right-hander appealed the decision.

The Astros were also perturbed that Kelly threw in the direction of Bregman’s head, as Lance McCullers Jr. recently noted on The Athletic’s “Starkville” podcast:

“Listen, after the incident I was asked about it in the media. I said it was unprofessional, and that made national news. I said throwing behind our guy’s head was unprofessional. I guess people were mad I used the word unprofessional with the things that have come out about our team. Maybe that wasn’t the right word. I think people understand we had a guy in our locker room who said he doesn’t mind the way baseball polices itself. But throwing 3-0, 97 mph fastballs at guys’ dome isn’t the way it’s done. If you are going to be the person that carries the big stick, if you’re going to be the holier than thou, you better do it the right way. That was, I think, our biggest issue with it.

“Not only that, after he threw behind him he picked off four times. Throwing the ball 100 mph over at first. Throwing it really low, probably in attempt to clip Bregman when he was diving back to first. He started that issue with what he said after he struck Carlos out – not going to repeat it — but citing the ‘Oh, I didn’t get close.’ Joe was scared. Carlos isn’t the right dude to mess with. It is what it is. I’m beyond it. He got his five games.”

Players are inevitably angry that the Astros weren’t sufficiently punished for their roles in the sign-stealing scandal. Some may feel obligated to take matters into their own hands, which could result in hitting a batter or two.

McCullers mentioned that Bregman is understanding of game policing, but would prefer players get hit in the backside rather than their head.

Reds starter Trevor Bauer auctioning ‘Free Joe Kelly’ cleats

When MLB originally handed Kelly an eight-game ban, many players around the sport immediately came to his defense. Among them were Cincinnati Reds starter Trevor Bauer, who designed “Free Joe Kelly” cleats that he planned to wear in a recent start.

However, that never came to fruition after MLB threatened to punish him in the event he wore them. Bauer still intends to auction the cleats, revealing that fans who purchased a t-shirt would automatically be entered to win them.

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