As the ALCS narrative unfolded, the suspense surrounding Bryan Abreu's suspension took a secondary role, albeit a compelling one. The Houston Astros' relief pitcher found himself in h*t water with the MLB for deliberately hitting Adolis Garcia with a pitch during the pivotal fifth game.
Nevertheless, Abreu seemingly failed to take heed, replicating his contentious action in Monday's decisive match-up. The incident in question occurred in the eighth inning of Game 5, played in Arlington. Abreu unleashed a blistering 98.9 mph fastball, veering dangerously inside and ultimately connecting with Garcia.
The impact of the pitch saw both teams’ benches clear, intensifying the already high-stakes nature of this closely fought series.
Unanimous Umpire Verdict
All six on-field umpires were unanimous in their judgement: Abreu had intentionally targeted the Rangers' heavy hitter.
This assessment was underscored by the fact that Garcia had just rounded the bases on a three-run homer in his previous at-bat. The league office responded by handing down a two-game suspension to Abreu, a decision the Astros swiftly contested.
Although he was permitted to play in Game 6, ahead of the series finale, the MLB stood firm on their ruling, opting to defer Abreu’s suspension to the 2024 regular season. The 26-year-old Abreu, perhaps undeterred by the prior events, took his place on the mound in the sixth inning of Game 7.
With a 97 mph fastball, he struck Mitch Garver, targeting the inside and ultimately hitting him in the ribs. The pain was evident as Garver took a moment at the batter's box, attempting to collect himself. Despite this, Nathaniel Lowe stepped up to the plate shortly thereafter, launching a 358-foot home run off Abreu and bolstering the Rangers' lead.
Baseball enthusiasts across the nation voiced their disdain for Abreu's actions, flocking to X (formerly known as Twitter) to express their thoughts. Many are calling for the MLB to reevaluate the situation and potentially impose further sanctions on the Astros' pitcher.
Given the MLB's firm stance on player safety, highlighted during the announcement of Abreu's initial suspension, it is plausible that the league could opt to extend his punishment should a secondary investigation be warranted.
They made it clear: the dangerous nature of Abreu's pitch, coupled with its potential implications for player well-being, were central to their decision. Now, with the spotlight firmly on Abreu and the Astros, the baseball world awaits the MLB’s next move.