@mbandi Right, because J-Mac buzzing someone is going to make them see the error of their ways. That has a good track record.
— Ed Giles (@InClementeWthr) August 4, 2012
It is an argument that has been had numerous times. Should you retaliate if your opposition drills your best player?
Friday night, Andrew McCutchen faced off against Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the ninth inning. The game was pretty much already decided at this point. The Reds held a 3-0 lead and were an out away from victory. No one was on base. The game was in the bag.
On the first pitch of the at-bat, Chapman unleashed a 101 mph fastball up and in that drilled McCutchen right in the left shoulder. It was pretty obvious that McCutchen was not very thrilled about it. He stood at home for a bit and slowly took his base. Following the game, McCutchen showed more emotion than I have ever seen him show as you could easily lip-read multiple obscenities directed towards the Reds.
One side of the argument says that you have to do this to “protect” your superstar. Another side of that says that the Pirates have to show that other teams can’t “push them around” and should show that they aren’t going to accept being treated like that.
The other side says, “What’s the point?” If McDonald hits Ludwick in the first inning of the next game, one of three things will happen. Ludwick might just put his head down, and take his base without saying a word, thus ending the whole thing as the umpire issues warnings to both benches. Another thing that could happen is that the home plate umpire, who obviously saw what happened the previous day, ejects McDonald on the spot. The third thing, which would be unlikely, is that the Reds take offense to the retaliation and all Hell breaks loose. Scenarios two and three will result in McDonald being ejected and suspended. Scenario one means McDonald just gave up a base runner in what will be a very key series where things hinge on each at-bat.
So what should the Pirates do? I’m torn on it. My heart says retaliate, but my head says to stay calm and beat them on the field, where it matters. It is Andrew McCutchen, so if there is ONE guy you “protect,” it’s him. But at the same time, this series is huge, and the slight risk of having a starting pitcher get bounced in the first inning of a game doesn’t sit well with me. I’m leaning towards going with my head. For now.
Final: Reds 3, Pirates 0
The Reds capitalized on two mistakes by Rodriguez, and that was enough as the Pirates’ offense was nonexistent with only one base runner made it to third base.
Chris Heisey hit an inside-the-park homer in the second inning to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Heisey mashed a hanging curve off the wall that bounced back towards the infield, allowing him to score. He was called safe on a play at the plate. Replays would show that Heisey appeared out at home.
Then, in the sixth inning, pitcher Mat Latos delivered the death-blow, hitting a two-run homer on a first pitch fastball with two outs to extend the Reds’ lead.
It seemed like each time the Pirates got something going, they would squander it, as they hit into three different double plays.
Wandy Rodriguez had a much better start tonight than he had in his debut outing. He went seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. It took him just 88 pitches to get through those seven innings and most likely would have been sent out for the eight his spot not come up in the top half.
Andrew McCutchen was 1 for 3. But the big story line was him getting hit with two outs in the ninth inning by Aroldis Chapman with a 101 mph fastball up and in off his shoulder. It was easily the angriest I’ve ever seen him. There could very well be some retaliation Saturday night for that.
Final: Pirates 8, Cubs 4
Jeff Karstens held the Cubs to just one run over five innings and the Pirates offense busted out 13 hits and eight runs as the Bucs breezed to pick up the series win.
Karstens gave up a solo homer to Starlin Castro in the first inning, but settled in after that.
The Pirates countered in the third with a solo home run by Starling Marte and later scored again that inning thanks to a balk call.
The game remained at 2-1 until the eighth inning when Garrett Jones delivered a two-run, pinch-hit single to extend the Pirates lead to 4-1. After a single by Travis Snider, Michael McKenry blasted a three-run homer to put the game out of reach. Jones doubled in another run in the ninth to cap off the afternoon for the Bucs’ offense.
Joel Hanrahan came on to close things out in the ninth with an 8-1 lead and gave up three runs on five hits, including a two-run homer by Wellington Castillo. He did strike out the side, however.
Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 3 with a double and two walks. He seems to be getting back into the swing of things after a “mini slump” over the past two weeks.
Michael McKenry’s homer in the eighth was his tenth of the season. He is hitting a home run every 13.2 at-bats. If he had the necessary at-bats to qualify, that would be the second best number in the Majors behind only Ryan Braun‘s 12.8 AB/HR.
Gaby Sanchez made his Pirates debut in the cleanup spot. He went 0 for 2 with a walk before giving way to Jones in the eighth inning.
Soriano would have been an intriguing trade target as he is still a very productive player and is signed through the 2014 season. He’s owed $18 million in each of the next two seasons, so the only way he was going anywhere was if Chicago picked up quite a bit of his salary. But the Cubs did express that they would be willing to take on salary in any trades in return of prospects.
Soriano also declined a trade to San Francisco, so it is safe to say he has a pretty short list overall. I mean, Pittsburgh and San Francisco are two pretty awesome cities. Perhaps he just really wants to stay in one place.
The now 36-year-old is hitting .272/.322/.499 with 19 home runs and is well like by defensive metrics ever since moving to left field. In fact, he leads all Major League left fielders this season in UZR.