One of the features that has made Matt Garza a consistently reliable starting pitcher year in and year out has been his control. Since becoming a regular starter in 2008, he has only once walked batters at a rate higher than 7.6 percent. Depending on the year, that’s average to slightly above-average control. Garza also doesn’t hit many batters: he entered tonight having hit two batters all season and has hit more than seven in only one season in his nine-year career.
It was odd but permissible when Garza hit McCutchen with a pitch in the third inning. It was hard to give Garza the same benefit of the doubt in the fifth inning, when he hit McCutchen again and was ejected, along with manager Ron Roenicke. Both benches were also warned. Garza seemed visibly upset at himself, punching his glove in frustration, but it’s hard to imagine a guy with his experience and control could accidentally double his season total in HBP’s in one outing.
Marco Estrada took the mound in Garza’s stead. Garza finished with 4 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out six.
This is not the first time McCutchen has been at the center of a beanball war. Diamondbacks pitcher Randall Delgado fired a fastball at McCutchen’s back on August 2, which was revenge for Pirates reliever Ernesto Frieri hitting Paul Goldschmidt and breaking his finger the previous day.
Another fan was struck by a line drive foul ball during Sunday’s game between the Rockies and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Mike DiGiovanna and Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times report. The ball was hit by Cody Bellinger in the first inning, going just beyond where the protective netting ends at the first-base dugout, striking a young woman in the head. Play was delayed for two minutes while the woman received medical attention. She initially stayed in her seat holding an ice pack to her head but was taken to a hospital for evaluation. According to someone in the Dodger Stadium first-aid office, the girl was alert and responding.
After the game, Bellinger said, “It was weird. It’s the first time I think I’ve hit a fan. I saw it literally hit her face. That was tough. I just tried to regroup. I’m sure it was tough for everyone.” He added, “I went over the next half-inning just to make sure she was all right. She said she was all right. She gave me a thumbs up. Obviously, it’s a scary situation.”
Both Bellinger and manager Dave Roberts expressed support for extending the protective netting at Dodger Stadium. [Update: Netting will be extended, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports.]
Bellinger was involved in yet another incident involving a fan later in the game. According to Michael Duarte of NBC Los Angeles, a 14-year-old girl ran on the field in the ninth inning. Bellinger said the girl came up to him and said, “I want a hug.” As she hugged Bellinger, a security guard tackled her. Bellinger said to her, “You know you’re going to jail?” She replied, “Yeah, I know. It was worth it.”