BOSTON (AP) Orioles starter Kevin Gausman was ejected in the second inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Red Sox after hitting Boston’s Xander Bogaerts with a pitch – the latest in a series of beanballs and brushbacks that have turned the teams’ matchups this season into a boiling rivalry.
Hours after a conference call in which MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre sent the message “Enough is enough,” Gausman plunked Bogaerts on the hip with his 20th pitch of the game. Rather than issue the customary warning, home plate umpire and crew chief Sam Holbrook immediately tossed Gausman.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter sprinted out of the dugout to complain, and Gausman appeared to be arguing that the pitch was a curveball that did not break. The pitch, recorded by radar guns at 76.6 mph, hit Bogaerts on the hip.
It was not known whether the umpires were under orders from MLB to automatically toss any pitcher who hit a batter – under these circumstances, it wouldn’t be unheard of.
The feud has developed at the same time that the city of Boston rallied in support of Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, who reported being called racial slurs by a fan at Fenway Park during Monday night’s game. The team apologized, as did the Boston mayor and Massachusetts governor, and Red Sox players came to Jones’ defense.
When Jones came to the plate the next night, he received a loud and long ovation from the Boston crowd. But things turned sour for the very next batter when Red Sox starter Chris Sale buzzed Manny Machado with a pitch behind his knees, and the Baltimore third baseman responded after the game with an expletive-filled tirade.
That led to a call Wednesday afternoon with Torre, the two managers, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Orioles GM Dan Duquette. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Torre had told the teams to knock it off, but that there were no warnings about hit batters.
“I guess the best way to describe it is: I can confirm that there was a call and it happened for both clubs, to basically address the last two weeks and to say, ‘Enough is enough,'” Farrell said, adding that he hoped that would be the end of it.
In the fifth inning, Jones was ejected by Holbrook after striking out swinging. Jones was upset about a late strike call earlier in the at-bat.
Duquette, meanwhile, said he hoped Sale would be suspended.
“Of course, I’m concerned about our guys, but we can’t have the pitchers in this league throwing at the hitters (and) it doesn’t work,” Duquette told reporters in the Baltimore dugout before the game.
Longtime competitors in the AL East, the rivalry between Boston and Baltimore has never attracted the attention or animosity of a Red Sox-Yankees matchup. But the low-grade hostility boiled into a feud on April 21 when Machado spiked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia with a late slide.
Two days later, Boston reliever Matt Barnes whizzed a fastball behind the head of Machado, hitting his bat. Barnes was suspended four games and fined.
In the opener of the four-game series at Fenway Park on Monday, Baltimore right-hander Dylan Bundy hit Boston’s Mookie Betts near the left hip with a fastball. Then came Sale’s purpose pitch.
“I lost my respect for that organization,” Machado said afterward. “If they’re going to hit me, hit me. Go ahead. Get it over with. Don’t keep lingering it around and doing that. I’ve lost mad respect for that team and that organization,” he said.
Told about Machado’s tirade, Sale shrugged it off.
“Whatever, man,” he said. “I’m not losing sleep tonight.”