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St. Louis Cardinals v Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo gestures at St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina as he argues balls and strikes with home plate umpire Tim Timmons in the second inning during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, April 8, 2018, in St. Louis, Mo. Molina took offense to Lovullo's comments which led to a bench-clearing scuffle at home plate. Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo is mulling the best way to smooth things over with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

How about an Edible Arrangement or maybe a steakhouse gift certificate?

“I’ve been thinking about it,” Lovullo told reporters Monday. “I want everything to kind of settle down and go away. I know that it’s a big story. It happened, and I can see why it was a big story. I’m not trying to downplay that. I just want the dust to settle and think through with a really clear lens and come up with a game plan.”

In his anger over the balls-and-strikes calls by umpire Tim Timmons on Sunday, Lovullo used an unfortunate profanity to describe Molina and his knack for framing pitches -- or stealing strikes, depending on your perspective.

“I simply said that he is one of the best ever and then I used the two words that everybody is very well-versed on,” Lovullo said. “And you can’t make balls strikes. That’s exactly what I said, no more, no less.”

And . . .

"I replayed it as many times as possible in my head. I said what I said and made a mistake with some of the wording that I chose. The one message that I want to say is that I respect Yadi. He's one of the best catchers in baseball and has been for a long time."

While Lovullo says he didn't mean the profanity as an insult, Yadier certainly took it that way and came after him. That put Timmons in the uncomfortable position of holding off Molina like a WWE referee until reinforcements arrived from the Cardinals dugout.

“I think that’s where I’m most disappointed in myself,” Lovullo said. “I probably should have thought that through a little more clearly."

And . . .

"I know he was frustrated by what I said and I can't blame him," he said. "I probably was giving him more a compliment in saying that he is very good, and I didn't necessarily follow through and execute the right way with my words to tell him that's what I was thinking."

Yeah, well, Lovullo was really mad at the time and the field level dialogue can get a bit coarse at times. And he still feels strongly about the whole strike-stealing thing.

“They were out-of-the-zone balls that, in my opinion, should have been called a ball,” Lovullo said. “Obviously, that’s my opinion. The umpires weren’t trying to make mistakes. I think if you set your sight-lines that framing is keeping strikes in the zone, then that part of the equation would eliminate Yadi from my discussion.

"He had nothing to do with anything. It was more about the balls that were called strikes in my opinion.”

TALKIN' BASEBALL

Here is what folks are writing about Our National Pastime:

David Schoenfield, ESPN.com: "On a 45-degree night in Washington, (Max) Scherzer spun his fifth career shutout while facing just one batter over the minimum. It seems weird that it’s only his fifth shutout, but that’s because three of the first four were so memorable, all happening in 2015. He had a one-hitter with 16 strikeouts against the Brewers; the near-perfect game against the Pirates, lost with a hit batter with two outs in the ninth; and the 17-strikeout no-hitter against the Mets, another near-perfect game, marred only by an error . . .  (Corey) Kluber entered his start without a win in two outings, even though he had basically made one mistake in each start -- both mistakes ended up as two-run home runs, by Nelson Cruz and Shohei Ohtani -- but a lack of run support left him with a loss and a no-decision. Kluber got only two runs to beat the Tigers on a 33-degree night in Cleveland, but that’s all he needed. The interesting aspect to this game was Kluber often pitched backward, especially with two strikes, going with his two-seamer instead of his wipeout curveball or cutter/slider. Eight of his strikeouts came with the sinker, seven of those looking. How cool was it to see these two both dominate? It was the first time ever that the reigning Cy Young winners both threw eight scoreless innings and allowed two or fewer hits on the same day. These two also show that you can succeed in different ways. Scherzer obviously pitches with much more emotion; with the Klubot you don’t know if he’s up 10-0 or down 5-0, although he did smile at one point in this game as he walked off after a strikeout. He also has a strong case as the best pitcher in the game right now, with apologies to Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw."

Mike Axisa, CBSSports.com: "On Monday night, Justin Verlander made his third start of the 2018 season for the defending World Series champion Astros. Houston won his first two starts by the combined score of 14-7. Monday's game was a tad closer -- the 'Stros beat the Twins, 2-0. Dating to the trade last season, the Astros are now 8-0 in Verlander starts, outscoring opponents, 42-11, in the process. They did lose Game 6 of the 2017 World Series with Verlander on the bump, but they remain undefeated when he toes the slab in regular- season starts. Verlander day is win day in Houston. Including his final start with the Tigers, Verlander's teams have won his last nine regular-season starts."

Ben Lindbergh, The Ringer: "On the one hand, a single week is a minuscule sample that doesn’t necessarily represent the season that Ohtani will have. On the other, it’s a larger sample than we need to confirm what we thought: Ohtani is preternaturally talented at everything he does. Ohtani, who’s hit in only four games, is one of only 18 players this season to have hit two or more balls at least 112 mph; only Minnesota’s Miguel Sanó tops him in average exit speed among hitters with at least 10 batted balls. Only two other starters have a higher average fastball velocity than Ohtani’s 98.0, and among pitches thrown at least 10 times this season, the only one with a higher miss-per-pitch rate than Ohtani’s splitter (44.8 percent) is Seattle reliever Edwin Díaz’s slider (47.6 percent). On Sunday, Ohtani—who threw 91 pitches and induced 44 swings—recorded 25 misses, a total matched or eclipsed in only 15 games (by 13 pitchers) all of last season and in only 13 games (by 10 pitchers) in 2016."

Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports: "New York Mets . . . just swept the Nationals in Washington, and have won four times during their five-game winning streak by two or fewer runs. In other words, the Mets are doing it with an excellent bullpen. That’s right: With Jeurys Familia at the back, A.J. Ramos nearby for support, former starters Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo thriving, Jerry Blevins a lefty extraordinaire, Hansel Robles and Anthony Swarzak providing depth and even Jacob Rhame there for the extra-innings save Sunday night, the Mets have a lot of relief pitching, and a lot of pretty good relief pitching."

MEGAPHONE

"I was paying attention to the score, but I wasn't paying attention to how many hits they had. I looked up and saw he had a no-hitter and I was completely oblivious to it."

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost, after he debated whether to pull pitcher Jakob Junis from his no-hit bid.

Keep up with the latest Cardinals coverage from our award-winning team of reporters and columnists.




Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.