MLB suspends Joe Kelly 8 games for igniting Astros-Dodgers bench-clearing

MLB suspended Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly eight games after he helped ignite a bench-clearing incident Tuesday by throwing near the heads of two Astros stars.

Kelly threw at Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, both of whom dodged out of the way, and then taunted Correa after striking him out during the same at-bat to end the sixth inning.

“Nice swing b—h,” Kelly could be seen on the broadcast telling Correa, while sticking out his tongue as he made his way back into the dugout.

Correa then approached Kelly, causing players from both teams to engage in a short-lived shouting match during the Dodgers’ 5-2 win.

Kelly’s suspension amounts to a 22-game suspension during a full 162-game season. The right-hander plans to appeal the ruling. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was suspended one game, while Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

The 32-year-old Kelly denied purposely throwing at the Astros players, though many believe it was in response to the Astros’ cheating scandal that was uncovered last fall.

Kelly was a member of the Red Sox in 2017, when the Astros were found to have stolen signs illegally en route to beating Boston in the ALDS and winning the World Series over the Dodgers.

Other pitchers have threatened retaliation against Houston stars for cheating, and Astros batters were hit by several pitches during spring training before the league shut down due to the coronavirus. None of those instances led to suspensions.

Many players across the league previously voiced displeasure that no current Houston players were suspended for their roles in the scandal, which commissioner Rob Manfred determined took place in 2017 and parts of 2018 — with both Bregman and Correa on the team.

MLB suspended manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow one year each (both were subsequently fired by the Astros) while also fining the team $5 million and docking it draft picks.

Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman came to the defense of Kelly, tweeting, “He wasn’t even thrown out of the game. MLB siding with/protecting a team that openly and knowingly cheated their way to a World Series. He doesn’t deserve to be suspended at all. Hoping he wins his appeal. Looking forward to seeing you back out there JK!”

The league in its ruling said Kelly having “previously been suspended in his career for intentional throwing” played a role in the harsh suspension. Kelly was suspended six games in 2018 when he hit former Yankee Tyler Austin in the back, which set off a brawl between the two rivals.

MLB prohibited bench-clearing fights in 2020 in order to limit contact between teams amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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