We had a benches-clearing incident Wednesday in St. Louis between the Brewers and Cardinals.
The way Nyjer Morgan tells it, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter incited the whole thing when he screamed “f@&k you” following a ninth-inning strikeout.
The Brewers center fielder responded in kind, hurling a number of his own choice words out to the mound before removing the chewing tobacco from his lip and throwing it in the direction of Carpenter.
Carpenter had his back turned toward the outfield at that point, but Albert Pujols noticed the tobacco heave and charged toward Morgan from first base.
Pujols was held back, as was Morgan, and both teams eventually returned to their respective dugouts. But this is the 21st century, and so the fracas didn’t end in the physical world. It went … well … digital:
The Brewers and Cardinals probably won’t meet again this season, and it’s possible that both Pujols and Morgan will be playing for different clubs in 2012. But the great baseball flick “The Sandlot” taught us all the impact of accusing a member of the opposition of playing ball “like a girl.” This grudge won’t die easily.
The Cardinals won the game 2-0 and have moved to within 6.5 games of the Braves in the National League Wild Card standings. They’ll be hosting Atlanta for a crucial three-game series this weekend.
The Brewers, meanwhile, hold a healthy 8.5 game lead in the National League Central.
If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.
Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.
The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.
At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.
Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.
Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.
Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.
Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.