Wednesday, May 9, 2018

HBP and retaliation

Another nice win for the Twins Tuesday. Day game after a night game after a 14-inning night gtgame with rain delays, so yeah, the Cardinals were probably pretty darn tired, but the Twins took full advantage of it.

Beating Carlos Martinez around impressed me. Martinez doesn't get the attention, but he's a quality pitcher who'se been about as good as anybody in the early going -- 1.40 ERA entering the game -- and the Twins took good at-bats and scored four runs in five innings. The fielders didn't help him much, but still ...

Anyway: On Monday Fernando Romero hit catcher Carson Kelly in the upper back with a pitch. Kelly is a career .163 hitter, so this was probably the easiest way for Kelly to get on base, but I've no doubt that it hurt. I've also no doubt Romero wasn't trying to hit him, or even knock him down. As Yogi Berra supposedly told Jimmy Piersall, we don't throw at .200 hitters.

The next inning, Cardinal pitcher John Gant knocked down Eduardo Escobar. This is non-proportional retaliation. Usually, if a team thinks a HBP was intentional, the retaliation is proportional. In this case, going after Bobby Wilson would have been the protocol. The Cards targeted the Twins cleanup hitter. (Escobar then walked and scored a run.)

It's been years since Tony LaRussa managed the Cardinals, but his belligerent influence is still there. This kind of thing made the Cardinals a regular participant in base-clearing incidents during his tenure.

Move on to Tuesday. Martinez hit Mitch Garver with a pitch. Again, it made no sense for him to be targeting Garver. It was a scoreless game at the time, and the HBP loaded the bases with no outs. I doubt there was malign intent.

But ... it was the ninth batter Martinez has hit already this season. Someday, he's going to hit somebody, and the other team will retaliate, and the Cardinals will be all wounded innocence. That's textbook LaRussa too.

As for the Twins, 6-0 and 7-1 is the best revenge.

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