There are loads and loads of unwritten rules in baseball, especially in blowouts.
Nick Markakis thinks David Ortiz broke one of those Friday night in the swing off a 3-0 pitch from Kevin Gregg that precipitated the bench-clearing brawl between the Red Sox and Orioles at Fenway Park.
“I like the guy, I like Ortiz,” Markakis began. “I respect the way he plays the game but I think it was a little bush league, bottom of the eighth, two outs, up by six, swinging 3-0. I don’t think we were hitting anybody intentionally there. But if it’s got to come down to that, it’s got to come down to it.
“We’re in it as a team. He knows how to play the game. I think he’s going to look back on it and realize that he screwed up there but what happened, happened and it’s over.”
Markakis said he didn’t understand Ortiz charging Gregg, even after Gregg had words for him.
“Yeah, I don’t understand why he went after him,” the Orioles right fielder said. “It’s 3-0 pitch, two outs and you have a guy tagging up and a guy swinging at a 3-0 pitch in a six-run game. It doesn’t make sense. He knows the game better than that. Put us on their side and them on our side, it’s a little bush league. Like I said, I’m sure he’s going to look back and realize he made a mistake, charging our pitcher, regardless of what was said.”
What was said was what started the brawl between Gregg and Ortiz.
After hitting a fly ball to center fielder Adam Jones on the fourth pitch, Ortiz, who did not speak to the media after the game, was verbally challenged by Gregg as he made his way up the first base line.
“Play the game, play the game,” Gregg said. “This is part of the game is pitching in, play the game, get in the [batter's] box. He has the right to do whatever he wants. If he doesn’t like something, he has the right to come out there. That’s the way it works.
“I said, ‘You’re up seven runs. You hit a weak fly ball and run, run the bases and play the game right.’ He didn’t like it.”
Markakis believes this will light a fire under the hapless Orioles, who have been annihilated, 20-7, in the first two games combines and have given up double figures in runs in four of their last five, getting outscored, 50-18, in the process.
“If you ask me, this happened in the right spot at the right time. But we still have two games left with these guys and several more games after the break. We’re going to see them. We’re going to get our opportunities and they’re going to get their opportunities and we’ll just see how it works out.”
The Red Sox will play two more this weekend against the Orioles before facing the Birds at Camden Yards July 18-20.
Zach Britton was Friday’s culprit for the Birds, allowing eight runs on six hits while retiring just two batters Friday.
“There’s no reason we’re trying to hit him,” Britton said. “We’re getting our butt kicked. We’re not trying to hit him. That’s what you get. Big Papi. He is what he is, and that’s what happens.”
Britton said Friday was good for one thing – team chemistry.
“Right now, it’s great,” Britton said. “Not to say this is what baseball is about, but it I think it kind of brought us a little closer so hopefully, we go out and start playing some good baseball next two days. It starts with the starting pitchers so we need to kind of pull our head out of our butt and start doing something or we won’t be here very long.”
Back to Gregg, he said he had every right to pitch inside on three straight pitches that preceded the pop fly to center.
“He’s been leaning out over the plate the whole series, and he does all the time,” Gregg said. “I’m going to pitch in to be able to get him out. He disliked it. That’s part of the game. He doesn’t have to like it but I’m going to pitch in there to get him out. Apparently, he thought I was throwing at him but if I was going to throw at him, I would’ve hit him. If I was going to throw at a guy, I’m going to hit the guy, I’m not going to miss him. I believe I can hit a guy if I want to, and I wasn’t trying to hit him. I was trying to pitch in and get him out.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter applauded his pitcher for his effort to lay claim to the inner part of the plate.
“You can’t let any team sit out there and do that and that’s the way Kevin pitches. I hope other guys take notice that you can’t constantly let people get extended and feel real confident,” said Showalter. “It is a game played by passionate men and they care about what they are doing. I’m sure [Gregg] took some exception to swinging 3-0 there and I’m sure [Ortiz] took exception of [Gregg] trying to pitch him in.
“It’s part of the game and there are lot of things that led up to that that some people don’t really notice but we do. We responded the right way and we’ll move on tomorrow. We’ve been wounded and some things happen out there that kind of wake up wounded people so let’s see what happens.”