David Ortiz charges mound as Red Sox-Orioles turns to brawl

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David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg sparked a benches-clearing brawl Friday night with the Red Sox spanking the Orioles for the second night in a row.

The Orioles called on their seldom-used closer down 9-3 in the bottom of the eighth.  After giving up a walk and an RBI triple to Josh Reddick, Gregg threw three straight inside fastballs to Ortiz.  The first and third both had Ortiz jumping out of the way.  Ortiz stared out after the first one and then took a couple of steps towards the mound following the third, causing the dugouts and benches to clear.

No punches were exchanged during the initial incident.  After the players returned to their positions, dugouts and bullpens, warnings were issued.

Gregg next threw a fastball over the plate that Ortiz popped up to shallow right for the second out of the inning.  Immediately as Ortiz popped up, Gregg started yelling at him to run it out.  Home plate umpire Mike Estabrook deserves credit for immediately tossing Gregg for the jawing, but Ortiz decided to charge the mound anyway and got off a couple of wild punches that failed to connect.

All in all, no real damage seemed to be done.  But now the Red Sox will likely have to do without Ortiz for five or six games.  Other players likely will face suspensions, too.  Gregg seems likely to miss a few games, and Red Sox hurlers John Lackey and Jonathan Papelbon were both involved in the scrum.

10:15 p.m. EDT: Orioles reliever Jim Johnson and Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, neither of whom were in the game, joined Ortiz and Gregg in being ejected.

10:20 p.m. EDT: As it turned out, Ortiz flew into a double play.  Reddick, who tripled prior to Ortiz’s at-bat, abandoned third base in order to take part in the fight and was called out, ending the eighth inning after a lengthy delay and several conversation between the umpires and managers Terry Francona and Buck Showalter.

10:25 p.m. EDT: The ninth proved to be uneventful, with Scott Atchison pitching a scoreless frame to end the game at 10-3.

Marlins, Giants get into heated beanball war

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You may have heard that Giants closer Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door in frustration after Monday night’s subpar performance. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result. Strickland came in to protect a 4-2 lead but ended up giving up three runs. The tying run was knocked in by Lewis Brinson on a single to right field. Brinson moved to third base on a go-ahead single by Miguel Rojas, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to take Strickland out of the game.

On his way to the dugout, Strickland started chirping at Brinson. Much like Bryce Harper and Strickland, Brinson and Strickland have a bit of a history. Last Thursday, Brinson handed Strickland a blown save with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brinson was happy to help his team tie the game, pumping his fast and saying, “Let’s go” at no one in particular. That rubbed Strickland the wrong way. Everything seems to rub Strickland the wrong way.

During Tuesday night’s game, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez threw at Brinson with the first pitch, a 92 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher issued warnings to both benches. Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue, suggesting that his team hadn’t done anything wrong so it was unfair to essentially take the inside part of the plate away from his pitchers. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly could be seen saying, “You’re next” to catcher Buster Posey.

The Giants scored twice in the bottom of the second against Dan Straily to extend their lead to 3-0. Posey came to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. Straily hit Posey with a 91 MPH fastball on the first pitch, prompting ejections of both Straily and Mattingly. Posey was hit on the arm. If the pitch had come in a bit lower and hit Posey on the wrist or hand, Posey might have had to go on the disabled list for a couple months. Or if the pitch had hit Posey a couple of inches higher, in the head, then who knows what would have happened.

Things calmed down from there, thankfully. The two clubs have one more game against each other in San Francisco on Wednesday and that will be the final time they meet this season. If anything further is going to happen — and hopefully, nothing happens — then it will come tomorrow.

Straily will almost certainly be facing a suspension and a fine, as will Mattingly. It’s less clear if Rodriguez and/or Bochy will be reprimanded for throwing at Brinson, even though it was fairly obvious the pitch was intentional. Regardless, the punishments amount to just one missed start for the pitchers, which isn’t nearly enough of a detriment to deter beanball wars.