Wednesday night the Angels pounded the Astros (LAA 9, HOU 1) as they continued their pursuit of the Yankees and Twins in the AL wild-card race. The Halos came into Thursday trailing the Twins by two games for the second wild-card spot. They’re five games behind the Yankees and the first wild-card spot.
Astros righty Mike Fiers got roughed up pretty good Wednesday, allowing eight runs on 10 hits and a walk in only 3 1/3 innings. Two of those runs came off the bat of Luis Valbuena, who clubbed a two-run home run in the first inning. Valbuena flipped his bat, and apparently Fiers didn’t like it, so he threw a pitch over his head later in the game. Here’s the entire incident:
Both benches were warned after Fiers threw over Valbuena’s head, though there were no ejections. As you can see in the video, Valbuena got the last laugh when he ripped a double later in the at-bat.
On Thursday, MLB announced Fiers has been suspended five games and fined an undisclosed amount for “intentionally throwing a pitch in the area of the head.” Fiers elected not to appeal and will begin serving his suspension Thursday night. The Astros have an off-day Monday, meaning they’ll be able to keep their rotation on turn while Fiers serves his suspension.
Earlier this season Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was suspended four games after intentionally throwing a pitch up near Manny Machado’s head. . Fiers received a longer suspension because he’s a starter. Five games ensures he’ll miss a start, in theory. Barnes is a reliever, so a four-game suspension costs him an appearance or two.
Fiers, 32, is 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA in 153 1/3 innings spread across 28 starts and one relief appearance this season. He figures to be the odd man out of Houston’s postseason rotation. Fiers and Valbuena were teammates with the Astros from 2015-16.