Major League Baseball has suspended Houston Astros right-hander Bryan Abreu for two games after determining that he intentionally plunked Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis García during Friday’s Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. García, along with Astros manager Dusty Baker, received fines. Inactive pitchers Matt Bush and Lance McCullers Jr. also received fines and will be prohibited from sitting on their respective teams’ benches for the remainder of the ALCS.
“In assessing the matter, Major League Baseball took into account the dangerous nature of the pitch and its potential impact on player safety,” the league said in a statement.
Abreu, 26, can appeal his suspension if he so chooses. Otherwise, his suspension will begin with Game 6, scheduled to be played on Sunday. Per the CBA, postseason suspension appeals must be heard within 48 hours, which means that if upheld, Abreu may end up serving his suspension during the ALCS or World Series.
(c) Discipline for Post-season Conduct. Notwithstanding paragraph (b) above, a hearing involving a suspension for con- duct on the playing field or in the ballpark during the post-season shall be heard within forty-eight (48) hours of the receipt of the appeal. The Senior Vice President, On-Field Operations (or com- parable title/position), or the Commissioner, as the case may be, shall determine the timing of the suspension, subject to the Player’s right to appeal and without prejudice to the Players Association’s position regarding past practice of the timing of such suspensions.
The incident took place during the eighth inning and with a runner on first base. Abreu hit García with a 98.9 mph first-pitch fastball. García, who had admired a home run earlier in the game and taken a slow celebratory trot around the bases, confronted catcher Martín Maldonado immediately. The umpiring crew gathered and ejected Abreu, García, and Baker.
“I can understand how he’d take exception to that,” Baker said after Game 5. “Nobody likes to get hit. But you’re not going to add runs on in the ninth inning in the playoffs when we’re trying to win a game. I mean, this — I just — you know, how do you prove intent? That’s what I don’t — I don’t understand.”
Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, meanwhile, expressed frustration with how long it took for the game to resume following Abreu’s ejection.
“Who knows?” Bochy said about the intention behind the pitch. “The guy hits a three-run homer; the next time up he gets smoked there. It doesn’t really matter. I’d be upset, too, if I was Doli. But like I said, it just took too long to get things back in order, that’s what was frustrating me.”
Abreu made 72 regular season appearances for the Astros, compiling a 1.75 ERA (241 ERA+) and a 3.23 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 72 innings. This postseason, he’s already appeared seven times. In those contests, he’s amassed a 1.42 ERA and has struck out nine more batters than he’s walked in 6 1/3 innings.