The Houston Astros fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for directing inappropriate comments at female reporters following Houston’s AL pennant-winning victory over the New York Yankees.
The team released a statement on Thursday, saying Taubman’s conduct “does not reflect the values of our organization” and “we believe this is the most appropriate course of action.’’
Taubman had previously apologized for using language that was ‘‘unprofessional and inappropriate’’ in the clubhouse following the victory.
Sports Illustrated reported he repeatedly yelled toward a group of female reporters about closer Roberto Osuna, who was suspended for 75 games last year for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy before being traded from Toronto to the Astros.
Taubman shouted ‘‘Thank God we got Osuna!’’ according to SI, which said he made similar remarks several times, punctuating them with a profanity.
“Our initial investigation led us to believe that Brandon Taubman’s inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter. We were wrong,’’ the Astros said. “We sincerely apologize to Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated and to all individuals who witnessed this incident or were offended by the inappropriate conduct.”
Nats halfway home
Walking off the field after the final out of a 12-3 romp over the Houston Astros Wednesday night in Game 2 of the World Series, Juan Soto smiled as he approached manager Dave Martinez and held up a pair of fingers. ‘‘Two more,’’ Soto told his skipper.
By then, Minute Maid Park was nearly empty and mostly silent, except for a small clutch of fans behind Washington’s dugout.
Suffice to say, it will look and sound a lot different Friday night at Nationals Park.
Halfway to a World Series championship in a city that hasn’t claimed the crown since 1924, Washington has watched everything go its way in taking a 2-0 lead over the discombobulated Astros, who were heavily favored at the start.
‘‘Just about when we all predict what this is supposed to be about, the game will show you that you know maybe a little bit less and less the more you’re around it,’’ Astros manager AJ Hinch said.
In what had been billed as a throwdown series between two teams with solid pitching staffs, the biggest star so far has been a hitter — Soto, still in his first full season and already with a knack for clutch knocks.
Soto’s eighth-inning hit rallied the Nationals past Milwaukee in the NL wild-card game. He then hit a tying home run off Clayton Kershaw in the eighth during the deciding Game 5 of the Division Series.
He’s 4 for 7 with a homer and two doubles in the World Series, driving in three runs and scoring three and also stealing a base.
Aníbal Sánchez is scheduled to start Friday in Game 3 for the Nationals against Zack Greinke. It will be the first World Series game in Washington since 1933 with the Senators.
Just imagine the party Soto’s adoring crowd will throw at pumped-up Nationals Park.
‘‘It’s going to feel amazing,’’ he said. ‘‘I can’t wait for it to happen.’’
Soto and the Nationals wrapped up a 12-3 romp Wednesday night and made the Astros look awful in the process.
‘‘Clearly, the Nats have outplayed us, bottom line. They came into our building and played two really good games,’’ Hinch said. ‘‘We’re going to have to try to sleep off the latter third of this game. I don’t want to lump this into a horrible game; it was a horrible three innings for us.’’
Kurt Suzuki got the ball rolling — flying, rather — by leading off the seventh inning with a tiebreaking home run off Justin Verlander. Things quickly turned messy for Houston, and the Nationals pulled away with late homers from Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor.
‘‘Not in a million, billion, gazillion years did I ever think I’d homer in the World Series,’’ Eaton said.
It hasn’t been that long since a team overcame this kind of deficit in the World Series, but it’s been a while.
Only three of the past 25 teams to drop the first two games at home under the 2-3-2 format have rallied to take the title. The last to do it was the 1996 New York Yankees against Atlanta.
The Astros led the majors with 107 victories and now need to win two of three to merely send the matchup back to Houston.
‘‘You can’t dwell on two games not putting everything together. Something goes our way, one ball goes our way, one line drive finds a gap instead of going at somebody, and everything changes,’’ Verlander said.
‘‘Things didn’t go our way,’’ he said. ‘‘We don’t have time to feel bad about ourselves. Reset and come into an environment that we know is going to be pretty crazy and be ready to play baseball like we know we can.’’
Fact is, the Nationals know what they can do, too. They’ve won eight in a row this postseason and 18 of 20 overall dating to the stretch run.
Not bad for a team that clearly remembers when it was 19-31 and things didn’t look too promising.
Of course, that was May. This is October.
‘‘We’re just playing baseball,’’ NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick said. ‘‘Luck’s going to happen when it happens.’’
Phillies land Girardi
The Philadelphia Phillies hired former Yankees manager Joe Girardi to replace Gabe Kapler. Girardi will be introduced at a news conference Monday. ‘‘I’m excited for this next chapter of my career,’’ said Girardi, 55, in a statement. ‘‘The Phillies have a strong commitment to winning from the owners to the front office to the players to the fans. It’s something that I’ve seen up close for the last 30 years of my baseball career.”
“To have my name now associated with this great franchise is something that I couldn’t be happier about.’’
Cubs name Ross
The Chicago Cubs hired former catcher David Ross to replace Joe Maddon as their manager in the hope Ross can spark the team to get back to the playoffs after missing out for the first time since 2014. The three-year deal includes a club option for the 2023 season. Ross, 42, who’s never managed or even coached before, becomes the 55th manager in club history.
Chairman Tom Ricketts described Ross as a ‘‘proven winner.’’ And president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called him ‘‘as gifted a leader as I’ve ever come across.’’
Ross, who spent the past three seasons in Chicago’s front office, played on World Series-winning teams with the Cubs in 2016 and Red Sox in 2013.
‘‘I’m honored by this opportunity to be the next manager of the Chicago Cubs,’’ Ross said in a statement. ‘‘My time with this organization has been special since the day I joined, so to continue with the club in this role is a blessing for which I’m so very thankful.’’
‘‘David has always stood out for his ability to cultivate the ingredients of a winning culture — accountability, hard work, hustle, competitiveness, trust, togetherness, and team identity,’’ Epstein said.
Umpire’s tweet probed
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Major League Baseball will look into a politicized tweet by umpire Rob Drake that referenced a rifle and critics of President Donald Trump. Drake, 50, posted this message to Twitter on Tuesday: ‘‘I will be buying an AR-15 tomorrow, because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL WAR!!! #MAGA2020.” The tweet has since been deleted . . . Joe West, a longtime umpire for MLB, sued former catcher Paul Lo Duca, accusing him of defamation for comments on a podcast that described West trading an expanded strike zone for the right to drive a pitcher’s classic car.
On the podcast, Lo Duca said when he was with the New York Mets in 2006 and 2007, Billy Wagner, the team’s closer at the time, told him after a game against the Phillies that West expanded the strike zone for Wagner in return for a loan of Wagner’s classic 1957 Chevrolet.
“I’m like, ‘really?’ ” Lo Duca is quoted in the lawsuit as saying. “He goes, ‘Yeah, so every time he comes in town, I lend him my ’57 Chevy so he can drive it around.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, so then he opens up the strike zone for me.’ I’m like, ‘This guy’s been throwing me out for the last 10 years of my life, and all I needed to do was rent him a ’57 Chevy?’”
But based on statistical information from box scores, the lawsuit says that West did not umpire a Mets-Phillies game in which Wagner pitched during those years.
The lawsuit also claims that Lo Duca said on the podcast that of the 15 games he was ejected from (an unusually high number for a player) West had thrown him out of eight or nine.
Murphy said that their researchers found that Lo Duca had been ejected from eight games in his career and only once by West.
The lawsuit states: “At the time the subject statements were made, Lo Duca knew the statements were false, or at a minimum, made with a reckless disregard for their truth or falsity.”
Umpires are expected to maintain neutrality and never to accept favors from anyone involved in the game.
This season, West umpired his 5,164th major league game to move past Bruce Froemming and into second place on the career list. Only Bill Klem, with 5,369 from 1905 to 1941, has umpired more games.
“If you know Joe, you know his integrity means everything to him,” Murphy said. “More than anything else, Joe loves the game and would never do anything to damage its reputation in any way.”