PITTSBURGH — Things got interesting in the seventh inning of tonight’s Wild Card game. Tony Watson entered the game in relief, and after getting the first two batters, he came up against Jake Arrieta. And the first pitch was a 93 MPH fastball that hit Arrieta in the hip. That led to the benches clearing, and Sean Rodriguez getting ejected. You can see a brief recap below.
After the game, Watson discussed the pitch, noting that he was trying to protect his guys after two Pirates hitters were hit. Clint Hurdle addressed whether he thought there was intent when Arrieta hit Francisco Cervelli or Josh Harrison earlier in the game.
“Well, you’ve got a pitcher that’s dotting everything up, throwing four pitches for strikes and Cervelli gets pitched hot up top, so I don’t think anybody was a fan of that,” Hurdle said. “Josh got hit with a breaking ball. That’s probably just a pitch that got away.”
As for Watson, he was asked about the execution of the pitch, and whether hitting a guy in the butt is the perfect place to send a message.
“You never want to intentionally hurt a guy, especially a guy like that, that’s having a historical second half, having a great season,” Watson said. “So the butt’s perfect.”
Watson wasn’t surprised that the benches cleared, since the tensions were high on both sides and everyone wanted to win. He did have a lot to say, but clarified that Arrieta didn’t say anything to him, and he was just getting vocal to draw attention and try and avoid Cervelli getting tossed from the game.
“I was just trying to keep [Cervelli] in the game,” Watson said. “Once those things are happening, you’re in the mix. Keep your head on a swivel and try to keep everybody in the game.”
As for the actual brawl, Sean Rodriguez was very candid about what happened after the game, saying that David Ross grabbed him by the throat, which led to his outburst that got him ejected.
“He was putting his hands on me, telling me ‘what are you going to do?’ I’m not going to do anything man,” Rodriguez said. “And he just grabbed me by the neck. I don’t even care what’s said or what’s going on at that point. You don’t grab a man by the neck and expect nothing to happen. I’m pissed off because nobody saw that. So he doesn’t get thrown out.”
When I say Rodriguez was candid, I mean he was candid. His comments on what he did during the brawl:
“I didn’t hit anybody. I wish I had. It’s the truth.”
As for Ross, he commented on the situation in the other clubhouse, saying that he didn’t mean to put his hand around Rodriguez’s neck.
David Ross said his hand did go around Sean Rodriguez's neck, though he said it was accidental. He addressed it: pic.twitter.com/ABXpVeZcuP
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 8, 2015
Rodriguez did say that in retrospect, he didn’t handle the situation well.
“Did I act appropriately afterwards? Absolutely not,” Rodriguez said. “I probably said things I shouldn’t have said. But that’s how you feel in the moment. Someone is grabbing you by the neck, pushing you back, what are you supposed to do?”
The brawl came at a time when the game was all but over for the Pirates, with Arrieta pitching so well. It also wrapped up a very frustrating month, which featured the Cubs taking out Jung-ho Kang, a tight Wild Card race, and the hit batters tonight. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until next season to see if the Cubs decide to respond.