Nevermind the fact that the O’s got swept by Toronto this past weekend. The big story out of this series is what came out of the last game. Long story short, Jose Bautista got hit by Rick VandenHurk in the third inning, and Shawn Marcum hit Luke Scott in the fourth. At that point both benches were warned, however Buck Showalter brought in Alfredo Simon in the fifth, who promptly hit Bautista a second time. Both Simon and Showalter were tossed from the game, and Marcum made the following statement after the game:
“I guess that’s how they do things over there. I think we have a little more respect for the game and respect for players on other teams. We’re not going to throw at them on purpose, even if they have 50-plus homers. It is part of baseball; I understand you have to pitch people inside, but to bring a guy in from the bullpen and throw two pitches at him and then get ejected, it seemed like it was very intentional.”
First off, regardless of the record I’ve always been proud at the way that the Orioles have approached every game this season. One thing that Dave Trembley preached was respect for the game and you opponent. If anything, the O’s might have been respecting the game by doing what they did. First off, I would submit that Bautista was in fact hit intentionally on both occasions. If that’s the case, I would say that it was done with good reason. Bautista’s hit 52 homers in 2010…his previous career high was 16 in 2006. I don’t want to convict someone of steroid use in the absence of concrete evidence, however the fact remains that one of the indicators of steroid abuse is a player who’s numbers are inflated year-over-year. (Bautista hit 13 homers in 2009.) There’s no question that his home run total is raising eyebrows at the very least.
That aside, Jim Palmer’s said on more than one occasion on MASN that Cito Gaston has a reputation for stealing signs. So is there potentially more than meets-the-eye here? As I’ve said on more than one occasion, I have no issue with teams enforcing the unwritten rules of the game when they’re broken. Stealing signs is a big no-no. We’d be naive to think that it doesn’t go on, however the fact is that baseball’s always been a gentleman’s game, thus is shouldn’t go on. I’ve seen on more than one occasion in games against Toronto this year where the batter’s literally had his bat waiting for the pitch when the Oriole pitcher threw it; almost like he knew where the location would be prior to the pitcher knowing it. Where I come from that’s called junk ball, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.
Shawn Marcum might want to think twice next time he wants to make comments like that, because perhaps there’s good reason for Bautista to have been hit. Certainly it could have been coincidental for sure. However if that’s truly the case, why did Toronto retaliate immediately against Luke Scott the next inning? The O’s could have thrown at Bautista because of the stealing signs, and/or because they know or think that his numbers are being churned out artificially. The Orioles won’t see the Blue Jays again until next June at Camden Yards. Marcum probably won’t forget this…neither will the Orioles.