Leave it to the umpires to take the absurdity of the Red Sox-Orioles feud to ludicrous levels.
O's pitcher Kevin Gausman was ejected by home plate ump Sam Holbrook in the second inning of Wednesday's game for hitting Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts with a pitch. In isolation — and only knowing that the teams have exchanged beanballs over the course of a week, mostly aimed at Gausman's teammate Manny Machado — you might say, "Well, yeah, Gausman deserved to go. Good job, umps."
Problem is, Gausman hit Bogaerts with a 77 mph curveball.
Gausman hits Bogaerts
People who know baseball's unwritten rules (and umps should be part of that group) know that intentional knockdowns/purpose pitches/hit batsmen are done with fastballs.
That has been the case each time Boston's Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes and Chris Sale have thrown at Machado in response to Machado spiking Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia on a slide last month. It was the case when Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy plunked Boston star Mookie Betts on Monday.
Gausman was incredulous when Holbrook tossed him. He motioned that he threw a curve. TV captured him mouthing, "What the f— are you doing?"
Yeah, what the f— was Holbrook doing? Overreacting and not using common sense, that's what. He made his debut as a big league ump in 1996. By now he should know the difference between a curveball that got away (which is what happened with Gausman) and the high-90s heat Sale delivered behind Machado on Tuesday and Barnes put behind Machado's head in late April. At least Barnes was ejected; Sale got off with a warning.
"Sale did it on purpose, everyone knew it. Then I throw a curveball and I get tossed? Ridiculous," Gausman told reporters after the game, per ESPN.com.
Holbrook doubled down on dumb after the game.
"I know that the ball was a curveball, but it hit (Bogaerts) square in the back and just making a split decision at that point right there, there needs to be an end to this stuff (MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with both clubs before the game about that), and I felt like an ejection was the right thing to do at the time, and that's what we did," he told a pool reporter. "Thankfully, we didn't have any more problems the rest of the game."
One other sure sign Holbrook f—ed this up: Bogaerts wasn't even mad, didn't even try to fight Gausman. He ran down to first base, happy that Baltimore had to dig into its bullpen extremely early because of a clueless call.
Bogaerts came around to score, Boston went on to win 4-2, and Gausman was credited with the loss.