Joe Jiménez has faced Miguel Sanó five times in the Major Leagues since 2017. After their latest meeting Saturday night, their future matchups are going to get a lot of attention.
Sanó said he took extra time celebrating his seventh-inning home run off Jiménez because Jiménez said something to him after striking him out last season, and to Nelson Cruz after striking him out to end a seventh-inning threat last weekend in Detroit.
“He struck me out with a slider in the dirt, and he told me, ‘Get ... out of here,’” Sano said after Saturday’s 4-3 Twins walk-off win. “I told Nellie, ‘Hey, next time I face him, I’m going to crush him. I’m going to do the same thing.’ He’s not supposed to get mad, you know? You [celebrated] it, but get ready for the [celebration] too.”
The resulting celebration led to Sanó and Jiménez shouting at each other from their respective dugouts.
After reading Sanó’s comments, Jiménez said Sunday morning that no such thing happened to prompt it.
“I have big respect for him before yesterday,” Jiménez said. “There's no reason for it. He said something to, I believe it was [Victor] Reyes, and he said he did that because I [celebrated] some strikeout or something like that to Nelson Cruz back home. That was a lie.”
What Jiménez did, after striking out Cruz last week as well as after striking out Sanó last year, looked like his usual game-ending celebration. Sanó’s strikeout on a Jiménez fastball finished off a 10-7 Tigers win.
The Cruz strikeout preserved a 3-2 lead on the way to a series sweep.
“I didn't do it personal,” Jiménez said. “I didn't do it to affect him, because I'm not doing good. I'm not going to be that guy.”
Though the celebration itself drew a reaction from Jiménez, he had a bigger issue with the comments after the game.
“I never, ever have done anything on the mound to affect the other hitter,” Jiménez said. “I never said something to a hitter. I never got in a fight before in baseball. It's just stupid that he thinks that, because obviously we speak the language and he knows what I say every time that I strike out somebody in a big situation, that it's like, 'Let's go.' It got me by surprise and a lot of people have talked to me about it. He got the homer. He got the pitch. I hang a slider and he hit a homer. I deserve that. But to do it like that and to say something like that to the press, that's what bothers me. I respect him. I respect all those guys in the other clubhouse. But it just disappoints me. ...
“I'm here to play baseball. I'm not here to talk. I'm not here to fight. It's just disappointing that he thinks like that. Obviously, he was wrong.”
Sanó’s reaction might make Jiménez’s next strikeout celebration personal.
“We're going to face each other a lot,” Jiménez said. “I don't know what's going to happen from now on, but I didn't say anything to him and I wasn't going to. But because he said something yesterday, I'm going to do my own thing, too. So if I [celebrate] a strikeout and I look at him or whatever, he can't get mad.”
• Shortstop Willi Castro said he did his best to try to get off a quick, strong throw on Byron Buxton’s game-winning infield single Saturday. “As soon as he hit it, I saw he took off running,” Castro said. “And I think that was the best play I could've done. I had to set my feet so I could make a strong throw. If I would’ve thrown running, it was going to be like a little lob. I think that was the best play, but he’s a really fast guy.”
• Sergio Alcántara made his Major League debut Sunday when he started at third base. He became the ninth Tiger to make his big league debut this season.
• Right-handed reliever David McKay cleared waivers and was outrighted to the alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio. The Tigers designated McKay for assignment earlier in the week; he has been working in Toledo since being optioned by the Tigers near the end of July.