We should be talking about Cody Bellinger and how he snapped a tie in the eighth inning with a home run off Andrew Miller and then broke the game wide open with a three-run homer in the ninth. He has 17 home runs, most in the majors since his debut on April 25.
We should be talking about Clayton Kershaw. He grinded through seven innings with only two runs despite matching his season low with four strikeouts. He even gave up a home run after getting ahead in the count 0-2, was sitting at 80 pitches after five innings, but then got through his final two frames with only 21 pitches.
We could even be talking about Kenley Jansen, who had to close out the 7-5 victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers after the Cleveland Indians rallied with three runs. He faced one batter and -- of course -- struck him out.
Instead, it's all about Yasiel Puig, who added a new definition to "flip" in the baseball lexicon. Puig had avoided controversy this season, but he also hadn't been all that good, which is why he was hitting ninth in Tuesday's lineup. He crushed a two-run homer in the second inning, but this is why everyone will be talking about him on Wednesday:
Oh, Yasiel, how we've missed you. It was kind of fun when you were always making news -- good or bad. Now you're in the news for doing something bad after doing something good.
Yasiel Puig said he was getting heckled. "I reacted that way," he said. "I stooped to their level."— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) June 14, 2017
Hey, at least Puig flipped off the other team's fans. Former New York Yankees pitcher Jack McDowell infamously flipped off his own fans after getting booed while pulled from a game, earning the "Yankee Flipper" nickname. McDowell's bird is probably the most famous in baseball history, edging out Billy Martin's 1972 Topps card or maybe the time Ted Williams flipped off the Fenway faithful in both ends of a doubleheader. Garry Templeton also flipped off his own fans back in 1981, which turned out to be a very good thing for the St. Louis Cardinals: They traded him after that season for Ozzie Smith.
At least it's safe to assume Puig won't get fired, unlike Mr. Met last month. But a double bird? The only thing that would top that would be a Cardinals-Orioles World Series. Puig's teammates seemed to have a good laugh about it, as Justin Turner was seen joking with Puig in the dugout. He'll probably face a fine, which he told reporters he'll happily pay.
The home run was Puig's 10th, but only his second in 21 games. He's hitting .239/.313/.418, which is a far cry from the Puig who began his career like a lightning bolt. The Dodgers also welcomed back Joc Pederson to the lineup after he missed about three weeks because of a concussion. Though he went 0-for-4 with a walk from the eighth spot, imagine the depth and power in this lineup if Pederson gets going and Puig starts to hit with more consistency.
Or maybe they won't need those two to live up to their potential. Since Bellinger joined the team, the Dodgers are 31-14, the best record in the majors.
Twins set franchise record with 28 hits. But the ball isn't juiced! In a 20-7 win over the Seattle Mariners, the Minnesota Twins tied for the second-most hits in a game this century (the Rangers had 29 in 2007). Eduardo Escobar went 5-for-5 off Mariners pitchers ... but 0-for-1 off backup catcher Carlos Ruiz, who pitched the eighth inning. Eddie Rosario became only the fifth player to hit three home runs while batting ninth and is the seventh Twins player with three in a game.
Eddie? Eddie. EDDIE! pic.twitter.com/r5BLo8Hh3a— MLB (@MLB) June 14, 2017
Puig won't be the only person facing a fine. Umpire Alan Porter also should be fined after Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy asked him to move and Porter was caught on camera responding with a "F--- you." Good job, ump.
"Alan and I talked," Murphy said after the game. "I think we both understand we've got a job to do, and we were both able to discuss and work through that. By the end of the game, there were no problems whatsoever. I don't foresee there being any problems in the future, either."
As for the game, the Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 10-5 as Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman each had three hits, including Murphy's 11th home run and Zimmerman's 18th and 19th. It was more bullpen fun as Shawn Kelley gave up two hits in the ninth and was removed with a five-run lead and one out to go. I'd say manager Dusty Baker doesn't have a lot of confidence in him at the moment. (He has given up eight home runs in 17 innings, which I thought was terrible until I saw Jason Grilli has given up nine in 18⅔ innings.)
Meet the Cubs' new leadoff hitter. After losing five of six games to fall back under .500, Cubs manager Joe Maddon talked about how his club needed to start beating good pitchers. They probably need to start beating mediocre pitching as well. Maddon's fix for Tuesday was inserting Anthony Rizzo into the leadoff spot -- and the big guy responded with a leadoff home run measured at 462 feet, his longest of the StatCast era. The Cubs then scored seven runs in the second on the way to a 14-3 win over Zack Wheeler and the Mets.
For all the talk about the Cubs' offense, however, it's still the pitching that has been the bigger issue compared to 2016:
Runs per game
2017 -- 4.69
2016 -- 4.99
Runs allowed per game
2017 -- 4.56
2016 -- 3.43
Quick thoughts ... Mike Trout says he hopes to return before the All-Star break and play in the All-Star Game. Don't count him out of the MVP race. (I mean, assuming Aaron Judge is human and actually goes into a slump at some point.) ... Home runs continue to fly out of parks at record rates. What's going to happen as the weather heats up? There were 50 home runs Tuesday, the fifth day this season with 50-plus home runs, which ties the most such days in a single season. It's June 13. ... The Orioles simply don't have the rotation to compete. Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo ended the 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox with OBPs of .296, .294 and .319, respectively. With Chris Davis headed to the DL, those three better figure things out.