Retaliation

Kontos Takes Aim, MLB Response is Swift

McCutchen drilledIt’s almost as if the commissioner’s office was warming up for Dodgers-Diamondbacks fallout from Tuesday night’s throwdown at Chavez Ravine.

On Wednesday baseball suspended Giants reliever George Kontos for three games, and manager Bruce Bochy for one, following an incident in Pittsburgh on Tuesday in which Kontos hit Andrew McCutchen with a pitch after benches had been warned.

With the Giants down 8-2 in the eighth inning, Kontos threw a ball behind Starling Marte. It was likely a response to an incident an inning earlier, when Marco Scutaro was knocked from the game (and, as was found out later, from the lineup for an extended period) by a Tony Watson pitch, and was enough to draw a warning from plate ump Wally Bell

The lack of contact may not have been enough to satisfy the pitcher, who drilled McCutchen in the backside two hitters later. With warnings in effect, Bell didn’t hesitate to toss him. (Watch it here.)

It was a reasonable response by the umpire. Then again, the pitch in question was a tailing sinker that drifted right, hardly a laser-guided bullet. From MLB.com:

The genesis of McCutchen’s plunking occurred one inning earlier, when he singled leading off against Kontos.

“First pitch of the seventh inning, he put a really good swing on it,” Kontos said, “and they were hacking early and out over the plate, so I was trying to pitch inside. A sinker got away from me a little bit.” 

(To add to Kontos’ woes, he was sent to Triple-A Fresno after the game; he’ll serve his suspension upon being recalled. Also, it was his 28th birthday. Still, wrote CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarlyit could have been worse: Kontos tore his elbow ligament while pitching on his birthday four years ago.)

It’s difficult to fault Bell for his decision, though it’s fair to ask whether Kontos’ actions were suspension-worthy. Ultimately, it’s irrelevant: Between this incident, the one in Los Angeles on Tuesday and Monday’s Red Sox-Rays dustup, MLB must be freaking out just a little bit, and responded accordingly.  

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