TWITTER FRENZY

Examining what's behind troubled former Astros' social media comments

Examining what's behind troubled former Astros' social media comments
Evan Gattis is causing quite the stir on Twitter. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Late Monday night in the Year of Our Lord 2023 former Astros slugger Evan Gattis went on Twitter and confessed in detail, on behalf of himself and the entire team, that the Astros cheated to win the 2017 World Series. He also copped to using steroids during his career.

The night was still young, time for one more bad decision. “@BulldogBeing” practically invited his 120,000 Twitter followers to an “Ask Me Anything” session. Among other mea culpas:

“I remember knowing what was coming against (Clayton) Kershaw.” Gattis got a hit off the Dodger ace in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series.

“As a team we swung and missed a handful of times only against him.” Kershaw gave up six runs over 4-2/3 innings that game. He threw 94 pitches. He struck out only two batters. The Astros swung and missed only four pitches.

“The craziest thing about the cheating year is facing a guy like Yu Darvish and getting shut out knowing what’s coming.”

He answered one follower who flat out asked, “So you knew what pitch from C.C. Sabathia was coming in Game 7 (when Gattis homered in the 2017 ALCS)?”

In a word: “Yes.”

As Duane “The Rock” Johnson would say, why in the blue hell would Gattis suddenly decide to cleanse his conscience over an incident from six years ago which has been adjudicated, punishments meted out, dispatched to history, resurrected in a recent investigative book and redeemed by the Astros’ squeaky clean and convincing win in the 2022 World Series?

In baseball years, 2017 was a generation ago. The Astros dismissed their manager and general manager. The team lost two years of top draft picks. The Astros were fined MLB’s maximum $5 million. And they became national villains.

Many fans have expunged the Astros rap sheet as other teams’ dirty deeds have been unearthed. Bottom line: only one player who participated in the 2017 World Series is on the Astros active roster today: third baseman Alex Bregman. Jose Altuve and Lance McCullers are on the injured list. The rest of the team is long gone, traded or out of baseball.

So why did Gattis do what he did Monday night? Did he just momentarily go a little wacky? Has he been carrying a guilty heart all these years and it was time to unload? Is he angry about the way his career ended? Have the Astros done something to upset him?

Never underestimate “wacky.” Gattis later admitted on Twitter, “Aaaaaand it turns out that I say stupid stuff from time to time. Nite (laughing emoji)”

But it could be more. James Evan Gattis certainly had an interesting big league career. He played for the Atlanta Braves from 2013-14 and the Astros from 2015-18. He smacked 20 home runs in each of his two seasons in Atlanta before the Astros obtained Gattis in a trade for Mike Foltynewicz and Rio Ruiz. The Astros also landed pitcher James Hoyt in the deal.

His first two seasons in Houston, he belted 27 and 32 home runs and became a fan favorite with his mountain man appearance.

In 2015, Gattis, not exactly fleet of foot, inexplicably hit 11 triples, an astounding number in the modern game. He hit only one other 3-bagger his other five years in the league. That was weird.

Gattis earned nearly $17 million over his relatively short career, topping out $6.7 million for 2018, a disappointing season in which he batted only .226. That was a drop of nearly 40 points from the previous Astros World Series year.

Gattis became a free agent after the 2018 season and didn’t play again. He was only 31 at the time. He’s still only 36 years old. Maybe that’s it. But whatever, ease up on Twitter after dark.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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