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.