Sep 20, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza (22) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Garza hit Andrew McCutchen with two pitches yesterday in Milwaukee’s 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Neither appeared to be intentional, but between the two the benches had been warned, so Garza was ejected from the game.
The incident sparked several comments from the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans, to which I respond, “Quit whining.”
Here is what Garza had to say about the whole situation, to MLB.com reporter Tom Singer, “If people think I hit McCutchen on purpose, with a 1-2 count in a game like this, then you’re just an idiot, OK? Because a game like this, a starter doesn’t go after a guy like that. It’s a [1-2] count and I’m trying to pitch inside. Guy leans in, it hits him on the elbow, that’s my day. So it is what it is, and I’m happy we pulled it out.”
Even Garza’s mound opponent, Edinson Volquez said that Garza wasn’t trying to hit McCutchen on purpose, given that in that situation it wouldn’t have made sense at all, but manager Clint Hurdle stood by the ejection since both benches had been warned.
“It was the right call, no doubt,” said Hurdle. “If he doesn’t get tossed, then I do. Somebody is going to leave.”
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole said that Garza simply didn’t know how to pitch inside. “I know when you’re pitching to a guy like that, you have to get it inside, you can’t leave it out over the plate. Going up and in, you’ve got to know how to do it, be comfortable doing it. I don’t know what the intent was on either of them. It could’ve been as simple as that — the only two misfires he had all night were to him.”
Garza has only hit four batters in 160 innings this season, and the Brewers have only hit 41 batters this season, which puts them in a tie with the Detroit Tigers for 27th in baseball. The Pirates on the other hand lead the league having hit 85 batters this season, 20 more than the number two team, the Chicago White Sox at 65.
If the Pirates were mostly quiet about the issue (after all they did hit Carlos Gomez twice on Friday), their fans weren’t:
Although not all Pirates fans reacted this way. Matt Gajtka for example is the editor at Fansided’s Pittsburgh city blog, City of Champions:
"It was odd but permissible when Garza hit McCutchen with a pitch in the third inning. It was hard to give Garza the same benefit of the doubt in the fifth inning, when he hit McCutchen again and was ejected, along with manager Ron Roenicke. Both benches were also warned. Garza seemed visibly upset at himself, punching his glove in frustration, but it’s hard to imagine a guy with his experience and control could accidentally double his season total in HBP’s in one outing."
And finally, from the Pirates blog on SB Nation, Bucs Dugout, in their game recap:
"In the fifth, McCutchen came up again, and Jonathan Lucroy signed for Garza to throw a fastball inside, then tugged at his shirt sleeve. Garza then threw a fastball that hit McCutchen in the arm. That led to Garza and Ron Roenicke being ejected, and it looked for a second like a brawl might break out, since Travis Snider and Gerrit Cole, in particular, were visibly furious. I don’t really know what the sleeve tug meant, and a couple Brewers fans on Twitter said that Lucroy does that fairly frequently. It doesn’t matter, though. The Pirates need to play baseball and not worry about things like this right now."