For Jose Bautista the home run hit moments after Baltimore Orioles reliever Jason Garcia threw behind him was a bit of redemption.
The Orioles saw things from a completely different perspective. They say that Garcia had no intention of hitting Bautista and that the right fielder’s home run trot was “uncalled for,” an example of playing the game the “wrong way.”
So how did the Orioles — a team that has a history with Bautista — end up throwing behind him in a blowout 13-6 Toronto Blue Jays win? Centre-fielder Adam Jones says it’s a matter of a nervous Rule 5 pick missing his spots.
“The last thing he wants to do is hurt somebody,” said Jones, who exchanged heated words with Bautista on the field the following inning. “Especially to hit someone else shoulders and higher? Come on. It’s the last thing he wants to do. All right you hit the home run, but he’s got 200 and something in his career. It’s not his first one. It’s not a walk-off. It’s in the middle of the seventh inning. Hit it, do a little pimp job, let’s not walk halfway to first down the line. Come on. Respect the game, and I know he does, but at that moment right there, he didn’t. And when it happens to my team, I’m gonna take offence to it.”
Bautista isn’t going to lose sleep over it.
“I couldn’t care less what Adam Jones is saying,” he told reporters, adding “Adam Jones single-handedly started that exchange. He said, ‘That’s bush league.’ And I said, ‘What’s bush league is you throwing behind my head.’ After that I couldn’t hear what they were saying because it was the whole dugout on the top step.”
The drama began with Garcia on the mound, making his fourth MLB appearance with the Blue Jays leading 11-4. The Rule 5 pick threw behind Bautista with the second pitch of the at-bat. Three pitches later, Bautista, who has had heated exchanges with Baltimore reliever Darren O’Day as recently as this month, homered, watching the flight of the ball, walking slowly up the first base line and flipping his bat. Orioles infielders chirped him as he rounded the bases, since they felt his reaction was unwarranted.
“There’s a right and a wrong way to play this game, and that’s not the right way,” said second baseman Ryan Flaherty, one of the Orioles to address Bautista as he completed his home run trot.
Why did Baltimore object so forcefully? Jones says if you show up one player you show up the entire club.
“This is my team,” Jones said. “I’m not going to let nobody come here and say anything to nobody on this team. It’s just not gonna work. You ain’t gonna sit there and pimp me. You pimp the pitchers, you’re pimping me too. He’s hit home runs, I’ve hit home runs against them, and I’ve never pimped one like he has. I’ve been hit by them many times. I’ve never said anything. I’ve went to first base.”
Jones said he doesn’t plan to discuss the matter with Bautista, but he expects his fellow American League All-Star to see things from a different perspective in time.
“He’s one of the game’s best players,” Jones said. “That’s uncalled for. I’m sure he’s going to think about it and see the whole scenario, and probably be like ‘probably wasn’t the best move.’”
Based on the Blue Jays’ comments, that seems unlikely.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that Baltimore was “obviously not throwing at anybody” and that he intended to take the high ground. He pointed to incidents in 2014 when young Blue Jays pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman threw pitches that hit members of the Orioles.
“It’s an emotional game played by people who care and what are you going to do?” Showalter said. “You’d just like to see people react like it’s not the first time they’ve hit a home run.”
So is the matter over as far as the Orioles are concerned? Showalter says it’s not something he worries about.
“That’s your history,” he said. “We don’t pay much attention to it. Whatever y’all see. We’re trying to get outs and win a game. All that stuff is great fodder for the tweet accounts, whatever they call them.”
That much is undeniable. And with 14 games remaining between the two teams, including Sanchez’s third start of the season Wednesday, there’s the potential for a lot more intrigue in 2015.