Last night’s 8-3 loss at Fenway Park was a fairly forgettable contest for the Blue Jays. A subpar start by Marco Estrada, insurance runs given up by the bullpen combined with nine men left on base by the Blue Jays … that’s been typical of this team as of late.
Aside from all that, there was one play which stood out from last night’s Jays-Red Sox game; Russell Martin’s dust-up with Rick Porcello.
Up until the top of the seventh inning, it was a fairly unassuming game. Porcello hit Yangervis Solarte the inning prior, but it was a curveball which got a little too far inside on the Blue Jays’ shortstop. There was no intent to do any harm with that pitch.
The following inning was a different story. Martin faced Porcello in the seventh and part-way through Porcello’s delivery, Martin called time. It was granted by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza, but admittedly, it was granted very late.
Martin even showed remorse after the fact, tapping his chest as if to say “my bad”. He instinctually called time, but realized his mistake shortly afterwards. By the time Porcello started his windup, Martin wasn’t even ready, so it’s possible that Porcello was trying to quick-pitch Martin.
The very next pitch, Porcello came back with a fastball up and in on Martin’s elbow. The Blue Jays’ newly-minted utility player was none too pleased about getting thrown at.
You don't want to see Russell when he's angry. pic.twitter.com/Brq5uNsnHE
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) May 30, 2018
Intent is nearly impossible to prove on the field of play, but this is about as deliberate of a beaning as I’ve ever seen. I’m surprised Martin wasn’t more livid about this because he clearly knew what was going on. There was no masking what Porcello was trying to do.
If that were another player on another team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them charge the mound. As a pitcher, you can disguise intent as an “accident” or bad location, but there’s absolutely no question that pitch was intentional.
What followed that incident was a bizarre set of events. Teoscar Hernandez got hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly the following inning, which was the third Blue Jays batter hit by a ball. Despite the stare down between Martin and Porcello from the inning before, no warnings were issued.
Only after the third batter hit did the Blue Jays finally retaliate after Danny Barnes came in out of the bullpen and plunked Brock Holt with the second most deliberate beaning I’ve ever seen. Then Carapazza finally warned both teams, four hit batters later.
The weird thing is the Blue Jays went one full inning after the Martin-Porcello altercation before coming back at the Red Sox. Once Xander Bogaerts made it a 6-3 Red Sox lead in the seventh, Tyler Clippard seemed to be the next guy out of the bullpen to “take one for the team” and get one back for Porcello going after Martin. But Clippard didn’t.
If the Blue Jays wanted to get their pound of flesh for what happened to Martin, it should’ve happened right away. Again, headhunting is a barbaric baseball tradition, but if the Jays wanted revenge, they had ample opportunities to get it.
Players won’t admit it outright, but there’s a certain understanding on the baseball field that if one team gets hit, it’s often up to the pitchers to retaliate. That’s just the way baseball’s always been. I don’t necessarily endorse this style of wild west baseball justice, but players often police the game themselves.
This isn’t what happened last night. The Red Sox beat them handily on the field and they also won the “game within the game” at Fenway Park. I can’t think of a better term, but the Red Sox borderline bullied the Blue Jays last night … and they just took it.
It doesn’t help that this Blue Jays team is fledgeling right now, a far cry from the team they were in early April. Where everything is going right for the Red Sox, almost everything is going wrong for the Blue Jays. Boston gained the upper hand in that game early on, but once the Red Sox pitchers beaned the Blue Jays hitters, there was almost this defeatist attitude towards the whole thing.
Maybe I’m completely off-base, but the Blue Jays looked like a frustrated, meek team last night. Being thrown at three times and then waiting for a full inning to pass and fight back didn’t help their cause. In the end, the Blue Jays got pushed around by the Red Sox in more ways than one during that game.