Dodgers, Pirates, Umps Get Feisty
Somewhere amid the morass of ejections, tantrums, and trash talk, the Pirates won themselves a pretty important game. The fading Pirates avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, one of their key rivals in the battle for the final wildcard spot. The Buccos got two huge home runs from Garrett Jones, another bomb from Pedro Alvarez, and AJ Burnett “gutted” it out, pitching into the seventh inning, striking out seven batters against one walk, allowing six runs.
None of which anyone will be talking in regards to this game. This getaway battle featured multiple ejections; starting with Matt Kemp being thrown out while in the dugout, leading to Don Mattingly losing his mind and getting tossed. Later, Joe Blanton spun the wheel of YOLO by getting tossed from a game in which he was no longer participating, giving home plate umpire Angel Campos a piece of his mind as he left the field.
Later still, Hanley Ramirez got the attention of Burnett by making some…incendiary gestures as he rounded the bases after his fourth inning home run. Burnett got a version of the last laugh, striking out Ramirez in his next plate appearance, then taunting the Dodgers new shortstop by insisting he “sit down.” Whew. I thought weekday afternoon starts were supposed to be perfunctory walk-throughs played with one eye on the flight home?
The Dodgers seemed universally unhappy with the strike zone. Judging by the strikezone plot below, they don’t have too much to complain about. Via Brooks Baseball, recall that these pitches represent calls for the pitching team with green for balls and red for strikes:
This is the right-handers map only, as both starters throw with their right and therefore correct arm. The Dodgers had more pitches outside the normal strike zone called, though the Pirates received a very healthy outside corner (this image is from the catcher/umpire perspective.) Could those have been a late-inning result of the early whinging? Only Angel Campos knows for sure.
As exciting as it might be to daydream about these two teams holding on to the animosity generated by this game all the way into October, it is even more unlikely the Pirates and Dodgers end up in the Wild Card slots come season’s end.
On the other hand, if spicy games between non-divisional rivals in mid-August are a by-product of the new Wild Card spot, count me as an early fan. The dog days have never looked so good.