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Dodgers top Astros in testy '17 WS rematch

July 29, 2020

HOUSTON -- Astros manager Dusty Baker contended that Joe Kelly threw at least one pitch at one of his players on purpose, but the Dodgers didn’t quite see things the same way on a tense Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. The Astros and Dodgers -- the Hatfields and McCoys

HOUSTON -- Astros manager Dusty Baker contended that Joe Kelly threw at least one pitch at one of his players on purpose, but the Dodgers didn’t quite see things the same way on a tense Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros and Dodgers -- the Hatfields and McCoys of Major League Baseball -- renewed acquaintances for the first time since star players from both teams lobbed insults and accusations in the spring, all of it stemming from the sign-stealing scandal that forced Major League Baseball to issue unprecedented punishment to Houston.

Box score

The Dodgers beat the Astros, 5-2, in their first trip to Houston since losing the World Series in 2017, a series that some of their players feel the Astros stole from them with an elaborate sign-stealing scheme that was revealed in January.

One inning after the Dodgers scored five times in the fifth to take the lead, Kelly threw pitches behind Alex Bregman and high and tight to Carlos Correa. When he struck out Correa to end the inning, words were exchanged. Benches emptied but no punches were thrown and no one was ejected.

“When you throw a 3-0 fastball over a guy’s head, now you’re flirting with ending his career,” Baker said of the Bregman at-bat. “And a couple of other balls were close. And then what really enraged everybody is when he told Carlos … he struck him out and he told him, ‘Nice swing, [expletive].’ What are you supposed to do with that? What upset me is the umpire warned us. Why don’t you warn him? He’s the one throwing the ball and he’s the one who started this mess in the first place. I don’t like it at all.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t see any bad intent in either of the pitches to Bregman or Correa.

“I think those guys took a little bit of offense,” he said. “Even the ball to Correa, it was a breaking ball that just backed up. Obviously, the expectation going into this series, things were escalated a little prematurely. That’s what happened. Happy to see nothing came of it. Warnings were issued and we won a baseball game.”

Kelly, who was on the Red Sox team that lost in the American League Division Series to the Astros in 2017, said there was no ill will in his errant pitch to Bregman. He joked his accuracy wasn’t the best while referencing breaking the window of his house working on a changeup during the break.

“It was a ball, obviously,” he said. “Wasn’t my best pitch. It was ball four. Walked him. Never good to put a guy on when you’re leading a game. Something I wasn’t throwing the greatest, wasn’t the most comfortable. Took me a while to get my mechanics.”

In the spring, Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger said the Astros stole the championship from the Dodgers and that MVP Jose Altuve stole the award from Aaron Judge of the Yankees. Correa, in response, took exception to Bellinger’s words.

“You’re telling me, you’re telling our team, you’re telling the fans we cheated you out of a World Series championship?” Correa said in February. “He should not be talking about that. He should have done something about that.”

Bregman, whose walk-off single in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series ended an epic game the Astros won, 13-12 in 10 innings, in the Dodgers’ previous game in Houston, didn’t want to point fingers Tuesday.

“I’m angry that we lost the game, to be honest with you,” he said. “We didn’t play our best game tonight, myself included.”

Baker’s comments weren’t quite as measured.

“You don’t throw at a guy’s head,” he said. “That’s playing dirty baseball.”

The Astros never retaliated with a pair of pitchers making their Major League debuts on the mound handling the final innings. They’ll get three more cracks at the Dodgers, including Wednesday’s series finale at Minute Maid Park.

“We don’t start nothing,” Baker said. “But we don’t take nothing either, you know what I’m saying?”