Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Brawl-Star Game
Jump not to any conclusions that not even a collarbone fracture in an earlier brawl this season sent Zack Greinke the message. Let's run down how went the Tuesday night fights between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks — featuring a few rounds between several 1980s all-stars now among both teams' brain trusts — for those who needed a scorecard to establish the, ahem, order of battle:
1) Greinke caught Cody Ross with a pitch to open the Arizona fifth, quite by accident, with the game scoreless to that point as Greinke and Ian Kennedy seemed locked in a reasonable pitcher's duel. The next Snake in the batter's box, Joe Kubel, hit one over the right field fence. Since nobody including Ross seems to have taken offense at a clearly unintended plunk, you could say Kubel exacted the most honorable retribution a teammate might exact. Dodgers in the hole, 2-0. No muss, no fuss.
2) Kennedy squirmed out of a jam that climaxed with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the inning when he pumped one past Nick Punto for the side.
3) Greinke dispatched the Diamondbacks in order in the top of the sixth, but in the bottom of the sixth Kennedy, for whatever insane reason, aimed one high at Los Angeles super rook Yasiel Puig, who's become must-see viewing no matter where you're watching, and was hitting with two strikes and two outs. It caught Puig on the snoot. You can argue Kennedy wasn't exactly trying to shatter the schnozzola, but you can't deny he was throwing a purpose pitch at all. And you can question why he waited an inning to administer the purpose pitch unless he just might have decided the way to send the Dodgers a message about an accidental clip was to go after the super rook.
4) Puig shook it off and took his base and the next Dodger up, Andre Ethier, saw the Snakes magnificently, sending one not that far from where Kubel's take-that! blast landed.
5) Puig batted cleanup Tuesday night, and Greinke — obviously out to protect his teammate — had the perfect chance leading off the top of the seventh, when Arizona cleanup hitter Miguel Montero checked in at the plate. Greinke hit Montero in the back. Say what you will about the unwritten rules or the mound marksman's tit-for-tat philosophy, but if you're going to retaliate for your cleanup man's drilling by going after their cleanup man, that is the way to do it. Had Greinke gone up, in, and decapitation upon Montero, the Diamondbacks would have been wholly justified in plans for vengeance.
6) The benches didn't move a muscle, more or less, when Puig went down by a nose, but they cleared when Montero took one in the mere back. The good news is that nobody threw any punches and the umpires handed both sides warnings right then and there. That should have been the end of it.
7) Except that it wasn't so far as Kennedy was concerned. Exactly why Dodger manager Don Mattingly left him in to bat for himself in the bottom of the seventh, with the game still tied at a deuce, remains a mystery. But it was a gift of manna to Kennedy, who threw one with Greinke's head on its destination log, and Greinke was probably lucky the flight plan diverted to his shoulder.
8) This time the benches emptied with a purpose of their own that crossed from the sublime to the ridiculous. We'll put it to you this way: you could have won a 1980s pennant or two with the coaches who mixed it up: Mattingly and Diamondbacks bench coach Alan Trammell; Dodgers batting instructor Mark McGwire giving Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson a mouthful and a half before opening verbal fire and grabbing upon Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2013 World Sillies.
9) Somewhere in the middle of the Brawl Stars there were Dodgers relief pitcher J.P. Howell body-slamming Snakes assistant batting instructor Turner Ward against a railing, Puig landing a roundhouse on the head of Arizona first baseman Eric Hinske, and several D-listers — including Matt Kemp — risking the addition of further injury to insult by bounding up onto the field.
10) Crew chief Brian Gorman and company sent six to the proverbial showers. For the Dodgers, Puig, McGwire, and reliever Ronald Belisario; for the Diamondbacks, Gibson, Kennedy, and Ward. Just why Ward got the ho-heave despite being flattened by Howell seemed obscure until you heard Gorman comment that he was doing quite a round of door-to-door grabbing of guys, never mind that "it's hard not to, when they go after you." Gibson and Kennedy, of course, got the automatic ejection button hit, since Kennedy was fool enough to try for Greinke's cone after the warnings, but it's difficult to impossible to believe Gibson ordered any such knockdown pitch.
11) Said Kennedy after the game, which — somehow — the Dodgers managed to turn into a win for their injury-sapped, inconsistent troops — "I didn't think it was right, what (Greinke) did to Miggy." Has anyone pressed upon him that the Dodgers didn't think it was right that he hit their cleanup hitter in the smeller?
12) After the Dodgers hung up the runs that meant the game in the end, courtesy of a three-run double by catcher Tim Federowicz, Arizona reliever Joe Paterson caught pinch hitter Mark Ellis with a pitch. That time, nobody dared move even their pinkies.