The Pirates’ and Braves’ benches emptied in the bottom of the first inning at SunTrust Park on Monday evening. With a runner on third base and two outs, Pirates starter Joe Musgrove threw a fastball that grazed the uniform of Josh Donaldson. As Donaldson walked to first base, Musgrove appeared to be saying something. Donaldson took exception, turning towards Musgrove while yelling at him. Players spilled onto the field, causing a brief delay in the game.
Donaldson and Musgrove were ejected, as was Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. The Pirates, already short on starting pitching, had to go to the bullpen with two outs in the first inning. Alex McRae took over for Musgrove, striking out Nick Markakis to end the inning.
There is no known preexisting beef between the Pirates and Braves other than the Buccos’ announcer making some regrettable comments about Ronald Acuña Jr. We will likely have to wait until after the game to know exactly what happened. Ostensibly, Musgrove thought Donaldson could’ve gotten out of the way of the pitch, but he wasn’t exactly diplomatic in sharing his opinion.
Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.
It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.
The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.
In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.
Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.