Major League Baseball’s struggle to weave a 60-game regular season through a global pandemic suffered another blow Thursday, when the Philadelphia Phillies announced two staff members had tested positive — raising fears that the recent outbreak around the Miami Marlins had jumped to a second team.
While there was no clear evidence that the Phillies’ cases — the team said a coach and a member of the home clubhouse staff were infected — came from the Marlins, the teams played three games over the weekend at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, even as the Marlins outbreak grew from one player on Friday to four by Sunday. By Thursday, with both teams temporarily shut down, the Marlins were up to 17 players and two coaches testing positive.
No Phillies players have tested positive, and MLB has reported zero positive tests of any players outside of the Marlins since July 24. However, three Phillies staff members have tested positive since the weekend, including a visitors clubhouse attendant earlier this week.
A statement from the Phillies Thursday said all activity at Citizens Bank Park had been canceled “until further notice,” and the Phillies’ three-game series this weekend at home against the Toronto Blue Jays was postponed, according to Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo — bringing to 14 the number of games postponed in the wake of the Marlins outbreak.
Even as MLB investigates the origins of the Marlins outbreak and weighs changes to the safety protocols outlined in its 113-page document, another immediate issue is maintaining the flow and competitive integrity of the schedule.
The rash of postponements has altered the schedules of five teams. The Marlins, who remain in self-isolation at their Philadelphia hotel, are sidelined until at least Monday, by which point they will have been off for an entire week.
The Marlins, Phillies, Blue Jays, and Washington Nationals will all have the weekend off as a result of the postponements.
As of now, the Phillies are scheduled to travel to Miami next week for three games, but it appears likely now there will be additional alterations to the schedule affecting at least those games, if not more. On Monday, Nationals players voted almost unanimously against playing a three-game series in Miami this weekend — a series that ultimately was postponed by MLB, avoiding a potential clash.
The postponements and the small window in which to make up games make it likely that some teams will wind up playing fewer than 60 games, even if the season is completed, in which case division standings and playoff berths could be decided by winning percentage.
Yastrzemski (2 HRs) sparks Giants
Mike Yastrzemski homered twice, the second a towering solo shot into McCovey Cove in the ninth inning, lifting the San Francisco Giants past the San Diego Padres, 7-6, in a walkoff win Wednesday night.
The Giants trailed, 6-3, with two outs in the eighth before rallying. Donovan Solano shook things up with his tying three-run blast off Padres reliever Craig Stammen.
After Tyler Rogers (1-1) worked the ninth, Yastrzemski homered off Matt Strahm (0-1) in the bottom of the inning to give San Francisco the victory. Yastrzemski also homered to lead off the third.
On his winning blast, Yastrzemski rounded the bases, did air high-fives with third base coach Ron Wotus, then was met by several teammates who surrounded home plate and danced apart from one another.
“That was weird. I didn’t know what to expect,” Yastrzemski said. “Obviously we’re trying to do our best to stay safe and avoid as much contact as possible. Sometimes in that situation you just have to follow the lead, and everybody was doing the right thing. We just jumped around.”
Giants manager Gabe Kapler had high praise for his young leadoff hitter.
“Tonight was an important moment in Yaz’s career,” Kapler said. “He just looks like a great all-around player right now. It’s starting to seem like this is who Yaz is. He’s a real leader in the clubhouse as well.”
Umpire West bloodied by bat
Home plate umpire Joe West left in the bottom of the first inning of Thursday’s game between the Nationals and Blue Jays after getting bloodied when he was hit in the head by Bo Bichette’s flying bat.
The 67-year-old West, who is MLB’s senior umpire, was struck near his left ear when Toronto leadoff hitter Bichette lost hold of his bat while swinging at — and missing — the first pitch thrown by Washington righthander Erick Fedde.
Foltynewicz clears waivers
Righthander Mike Foltynewicz cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Atlanta Braves’ alternate training site. No team chose to take on the $2.3 million remaining on Foltynewicz’s 2020 contract. The 28-year-old was designated for assignment by the Braves Tuesday following an alarming drop in velocity in summer camp and in his 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay Monday night, when he allowed six runs, three homers, and four walks in 3⅓ innings . . . Shohei Ohtani hit a three-run homer, his first of the season, Mike Trout had three hits, and Justin Upton hit his 300th career homer for the Angels, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Mariners, who rallied from two late deficits to post a 10-7 victory Wednesday night in Anaheim, Calif.