Fight Night at Dodger Stadium
A baseball game broke out at the fights today. So that phrase is usually reserved for hockey, but for one night it was the Dodgers and Diamondbacks who created the turn in the phrase.
The hostilities started in the sixth inning when D-Backs starter Ian Kennedy hit Yasiel Puig in the shoulder with a 92 mph fastball which bounced off his nose. Following protocol Puig passed the concussion test, and his nose was fine. Puig stayed in the game.
"If you can't pitch inside without hitting someone on the head, you shouldn't pitch inside," Mattingly said.
Leading off the top of the seventh inning Dodgers starter Zack Greinke hit Miguel Montero with a 91 mph fastball in between the shoulder blades which brought both teams and bullpens onto the field and warnings were issued to both sides by home plate umpire Clint Fagan. While no hostilities escalated, D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson was clearly irate as he headed back into the dugout.
Thinking everything was square, no one expected Kennedy to hit Greinke with a fastball in the shoulder in the bottom of the seventh inning. But that he did, and everyone came spilling out onto the field.
"I thought it was bullshit," Mattingly said. "It should have been over."
Unlike the top of the seventh inning, both teams came out swinging.
There was Ronald Belisario swinging at something and nothing.
"I was just trying to protect my team," Belisario said. Of concern is the fact that Belisario has not been able to pitch the last two games with pain in his right shoulder after pitching 2 1/3 innings on Sunday. Mattingly said before the game he's feeling better, but seeing the way Belisario was swinging away was concerning. Belisario put worries to rest for now. "I'm good. I'll be ready in a couple of days."
Reliever J.P. Howell tossed D-Backs assistant hitting coach Turner Ward over the railing into the camera well. Puig got in a couple of punches on Eric Hinske. Mark McGwire and D-Backs third base coach Matt Williams were going after it. Punches were exchanged, there were shoves. It was a Grade A donnybrook unlike most of the kerfluffles we're used to seeing in baseball. And there were no apologies coming from the Dodger clubhouse.
"That's the way the game is," catcher Tim Federowicz said.
"That's just baseball," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said.
The D-Backs were still fuming after the game.
"It was like 25 against 72, because all the DL guys were out there, too," Montero told the Associated Press. "I guess their arms were feeling pretty good because they were throwing good punches."
Gibson insisted that the throw to Puig wasn't intentional. "We respect those guys too much," Gibson told AP. "They responded, and it was certainly obvious.
"Beyond that, things got out of control. Donnie was mad, and I'm sure they'll accept no culpability."
Belisario, McGwire and Puig were ejected from the Dodgers and Kennedy, Gibson and Ward were ejected from the D-Backs. Suspensions and other supplemental discipline are almost assured after an event like this.
The most important part about all of this? "We won a game, period," Mattingly said.
At that point the Dodgers and D-Backs were tied 2-2, and the Dodgers did not score in that half inning.
Howell, who amazingly wasn't ejected, came in to pitch the eighth with all of the emotions still running. "It's tough," Howell said, "But it's part of the game."
Howell got Didi Gregorious to pop up to shortstop Luis Cruz, but pinch-hitter A.J. Pollack doubled and Gerardo Parra walked. Matt Guerrier came in to relive Howell and gave up a single to Willie Bloomquist that scored Pollack to give the D-Backs the 3-2 lead.
Fortunately the Dodgers had some fight left in them, walks by Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe loading the bases on D-Backs reliever David Hernandez. Federowicz, in his self-proclaimed biggest hit of his burgeoning career, cleared the bases with a double that was just inches away from being a grand slam.
"It was good," Federowicz said. "I stuck with my approach and didn't do too much. It paid off."
The newly minted closer Kenley Jansen needed only 10 pitches to retire the side in order in the ninth inning record his third save this season.
The person who should be thankful the fight happened: home plate umpire Clint Fagan. It's been a rough week for him. The first claim to fame for this Houston area insurance salesman came last week when he ejected Yadier Molina and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny at first base.
Fagan also blew a call at first base last night in the eighth inning calling Jerry Hairston out on a 5-2-3 double play despite Hairston being a step safe.
But nothing could prepare for what happened in this game.
In the fourth inning Yasiel Puig fouled off the first pitch to the backstop, however Fagan did not indicate the play was dead meaning that was a ball and Gonzalez could have advanced to second base. Unfortunately the only person in the park who knew it was a live ball was Fagan. Puig eventually struck out swinging meaning he was afforded the luxury of striking out on four strikes.
Just to even things out, Fagan said Greinke's first pitch to Cody Ross in the fifth inning hit Ross. Replays showed that the ball missed Ross by a good margin.