HOUSTON — Astros Manager Bo Porter called Angels Manager Mike Scioscia on Saturday to apologize for what many consider a bush-league ploy, one that caused confusion between Angels catcher Hank Conger and first baseman Mark Trumbo on a popup that dropped in front of the Houston dugout Friday night.
With two on and one out in the sixth inning and the score tied 1-1, Chris Carter hit a foul pop that Conger had a bead on before someone from the Astros' dugout yelled, "I got it!" Conger backed off, thinking Trumbo called him off, and the ball dropped.
"I apologized to him on behalf of our ballclub," Porter said of his conversation with Scioscia. "It's not something I condone, and I take full responsibility. It won't happen again."
Said Trumbo: "That's a classy move. It's a strange thing, but it was nice of him to extend the apology."
Conger was angered by the play but glad it didn't hurt the Angels. The catcher threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal third, Carter grounded out to end the inning, and the Angels went on to win, 4-2. "Luckily, we were able to get out of that inning," he said.
It's normal for fans to try to distract opponents on popups, but Trumbo said players can usually differentiate the voices of fans from teammates. But Conger said he may have to come up with a contingency plan when in such close proximity of fans.
"We should probably have a 'safe' word or something," Conger said with a laugh. "That's a tough one because when there's a popup by the dugout, if we hear someone call it off, we give them the right of way. It's one of those things we'll have to talk about, because it will probably come up again."
Tempers flared in the eighth inning Saturday when Astros reliever Travis Blackley, after picking off J.B. Shuck at first, tagged Shuck so hard to complete a rundown that Shuck nearly fell to the ground.
Blackley, who gave up Chris Iannetta's two-run homer before Shuck's single, then spiked the ball into the ground so hard it rolled all the way to the third-base line.
"I don't know what that was about," Shuck said. "He must have been mad about the homer he gave up."
Blackley said frustration got the best of him.
"It was one of those heat-of-the-moment things," he said. "I didn't think anything of it until afterwards. [Shortstop] Ronny Cedeno came over and said, 'Hey man, you don't need to do that.' I was fired up. I haven't had the best outings of late."
Erick Aybar, who capped a four-run fourth with a two-out, two-run single to right, is batting .359 (23 for 64) with 17 runs batted in over his last 16 games, raising his average from .262 to .285. The shortstop has an American League-leading 14 multi-hit games this month. . . . Howie Kendrick's solo homer to right in the fifth was his ninth of the season and first since June 5. . . . Iannetta's homer to left in the eighth was his first since May 24.