Hector Neris had an eventful series this week against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He closed things out Thursday with some apparent choice words for the Dodgers dugout after recording a save in a 7-6 win.
Bad blood early in series
The Philadelphia Phillies closer blew a save on Tuesday by allowing a go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Beaty in the ninth inning that gave the Dodgers an 8-6 lead.
Neris responded by promptly throwing a 95 mph fastball toward David Freese’s head in the next at-bat. The high heat arrived despite no apparent breaking of baseball’s unwritten rules by Beaty, who didn’t flip his bat or take a slow trot around the bases.
Neris and manager Gabe Kapler were ejected for the incident before Bryce Harper capped a ninth-inning rally with a walk-off double to secure a 9-8 Phillies win.
Neris’ beanball prompted a three-game suspension from MLB on Wednesday for “intentionally throwing a pitch in the area of the head of David Freese.” Neris was also fined an undisclosed amount.
Neris appealed the suspension and told the Philadelphia Inquirer he didn’t intend to hit Freese.
“No, nothing crazy,” Neris said. “I just wanted to throw inside, and I hit him. I didn’t hit him on purpose. I just want to throw my ball in.”
He has been allowed to pitch while his appeal is pending and took the mound to close things out during a Thursday matinee.
Neris has choice words after closing out Dodgers
Neris took the mound with the Phillies holding a 7-5 lead. He gave up a solo home run to Alex Verdugo with two outs, but induced a fly-out from Justin Turner during the next at-bat to secure the 7-6 win.
He was visibly excited after the final out. Neris pumped both fists before staring down the Dodgers dugout and shouting what appeared to be two single-syllable words.
Hector Neris stared at Dodgers dugout after his save.
Dodgers say he yelled F*** You at them
Russell Martin from dugout told Hector, let’s meet in the hallway
Hector after: “Its just emotions”#Phillies
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) July 18, 2019
Dodgers infielder Max Muncy said after the game that Neris indeed screamed “f--- you” toward the dugout before taking a shot at the Phillies closer.
“He’s blown about eight saves against us over the last two year,” Muncy said, per The Athletic. “I guess he was finally excited he got one.”
Dave Roberts: ‘I took it personal’
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gave a more nuanced criticism of Neris, calling him out for “unacceptable” behavior that he and his team took “personal.”
“The last out, obviously, you know, a hard-fought series,” Roberts said. “He’s a guy that got suspended for throwing at our guy a few nights ago. Obviously he’s appealing and he was emotional with the save and a big win for them. I think we played this series the right way, played it straight. And so to look in our dugout and taunt in any way, I think it’s unacceptable.
“For our guys, who just play the game to win and play it straight and clean. Last game of the series, to look in our dugout, I think that exceeds the emotion. Look in your own dugout. So I think our guys took it personal. I took it personal.”
Neris has a history with the Dodgers that recently includes allowing a walk-off home run to catcher Will Smith in a 4-3 Los Angeles win on June 1. Smith admired his shot over the left-field wall at Dodgers Stadium and took his time around the bases on that one.
The Dodgers are firmly in control of the NL West and in line for the top seed in the NL playoffs in the fall. The Phillies are fighting for a playoff spot and could end up securing a wild card berth.
If the two teams do end up meeting in a postseason series, tensions will already be high for Game 1.
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