As Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles took a few practice swings before his first at-bat at Fenway Park last evening, the Red Sox faithful gave him a round of applause and some gave a standing ovation. It seemed like things were finally settling down between the two teams, with the back and forth brush-back pitches and warned benches surrounding the Manny Machado drama of the last several days. On the evening of May 1st, a group of Red Sox fans heckled and berated Jones with racially charged insults. Major League Baseball and the Red Sox organization apologized to Jones and to their credit, are ensuring they are taking measures to protect players and other fans in baseball stadiums, and to levy serious charges on fans who in the future may elect to make the same foolish mistakes made in Boston on Monday.
As Adam Jones stepped in, many people including myself, thought the anger and drama between these two teams was over. Jones saw three pitches from Red Sox starter Chris Sale, and he headed back to the Orioles bench. Machado came to the plate to take his swings against Sale, who struck out the first two batters on 7 pitches, all strikes.
The very first pitch to Machado sailed behind Machado, at knee level. Machado immediately looked at home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn, who darted out between home plate and the pitcher’s mound, pointed at the Boston dugout and then pointed at the Orioles dugout and issued warnings to each team, along with Chris Sale.
Sale is a pitcher with excellent command of all his pitches, and it was a pitch with obvious intent. In the dugout after the top half of the 1st ended, he was seen gesturing and high-fiving teammates. Machado struck out in that first at-bat, but hit a towering home-run in the top of the 7th to gain some redemption, although the Sox beat the O’s by a score of 5-2.
After crossing home plate, Machado stared into the Red Sox dugout with a look of contempt. After the game, Machado went into a tirade against the Red Sox, filled with plenty of words unsuitable for a family atmosphere.
What doesn’t make sense to many, including this writer, is why did Sale decide to continue this war against Machado, when he’s been thrown at several times before? That remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to see what happens on Wednesday evening.
UPDATE – Kevin Gausman hits Xander Boegaerts with a breaking-ball and is ejected. You can’t make this stuff up!