Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Milwaukee Brewers Win a Wild One in Pittsburgh in 14; Gomez Ejected

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The Milwaukee Brewers managed to win a wild game, 3-2, against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon. The game took fourteen innings, and featured the ejection of Brewers star centerfielder Carlos Gomez — a known hothead — in the third inning after he hit a triple off Pirates starter Gerrit Cole and appeared to delay his start from the batter’s box a bit. (Apparently Gomez thought he’d hit a homer, but he hadn’t.)

All very typical behavior in a baseball game, to be sure. Hitters do this all the time, and only rarely do pitchers get upset by it. (Instead, they try to get even, usually by throwing a baseball or two past the offending player’s head during the next at-bat.)

Words were exchanged between Cole and Gomez; Cole appeared to be barking at Gomez, and whatever Cole said was enough for Gomez to come off the bag, throw his batting helmet in frustration, and then charge toward Cole. Brewers third-base coach Ed Sedar went and immobilized Cole — an interesting choice — while Pirates third baseman Josh Hamilton tried to calm down Gomez.

At this point Pirates reserve Travis Snider charged off the bench and threw a punch or two at Gomez. The remaining benches cleared, with only Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen trying to keep their heads and keep everyone separated.

Before it was over, Martin Maldonado had thrown a punch that connected with Snider’s face after Rickie Weeks had Snider in a headlock, and Russell Martin threw several punches, only one of which seemed to connect (this one, perhaps, with Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron).

After all was said and done, Gomez was ejected (Elian Herrera came in to pinch run, then took over Gomez’s duties in center for the rest of the game), Narron was ejected (even though Narron didn’t do anything that I saw), and Snider was ejected.

Cole stayed in the game. Martin for the Pirates and Maldonado for the Brewers resumed their seats on the bench.

That the Brewers actually won this wild game 3-2 in fourteen innings is almost beside the point.

Yes, there were some wonderful heroics. Ryan Braun hit a solo HR in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 2, and Khris Davis, of all people, hit a solo HR in the fourteenth to give the Brewers the win.

And the relief pitching, again, was stellar — can’t ask for more from any of them, as nearly all of them are doing their jobs save Wei-Chung Wang (who wouldn’t even be at the major-league level excepting he’s a Rule 5 guy, so the Brewers have to keep him on the roster).

I’d much rather talk about the relievers as a group, or the three solo HRs from Mark Reynolds, Braun and Davis, or about Francisco Rodriguez’s 311th career save . . . but instead, what I’m left to talk about is this fight.

According to Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Brewers beat writer Todd Rosiak, Gomez explained what happened this way:

“That (Atlanta) game I know I go over (the line). But today I’m not,” Gomez said. “First of all, I hit a triple – it’s not a double – I’m not flipping my bat because I think it’s a home run. I thought it was an out. I thought it was a fly-ball out, line-drive center field. And I’m kind of like, ‘Oh, I had good contact but I don’t think it’s going out.’

“It’s not like I’m pimping a home run. Then I get to third base and somebody’s screaming at me – ‘It’s not your job.’ But everything’s over and Snider comes real angry and talks to me that way, so I responded back, he tried to punch me and everything started there. I don’t know why they’re mad for something like that.”

Then, Gomez went on to say that the Pirates had been doing a goodly amount of showboating themselves, but the Brewers said and did nothing about it. So why should the Pirates care even if Gomez was showboating (which, as you have seen, Gomez insists he wasn’t)?

That’s why Gomez insists he will not apologize. And he intends to appeal any suspension Major League Baseball intends to give him, for that matter — because he truly feels he did nothing wrong whatsoever.

Here’s a quote from Rosiak’s piece that’s from Brewers reserve catcher Martin Maldonado, the Brewers other “main offender” in today’s fracas:

Said Maldonado: “I saw Snider and Martin over Gomez. I could tell it wasn’t fair, so I had to protect my teammate. I don’t worry about (a suspension). That’s part of baseball. Whatever happens.”

Or, in not so many words, Maldonado’s saying he was protecting his teammate from being ganged up on. Period. And so if he gets suspended for that, fine.

Rosiak also interviewed Russell Martin and Gerrit Cole for his piece, and what they had to say was eye-opening in turn:

In the Pirates’ clubhouse, Cole didn’t deny giving Gomez a piece of his mind in the aftermath of his triple.

“I grabbed the ball from (Harrison) and I said, ‘If you’re going to hit a home run, you can watch it. If you’re going to hit a fly ball to center field, don’t watch it.’” said Cole. “I didn’t curse at him, I didn’t try to provoke a fight. I was frustrated and I let my emotions get the better of me and I ended up getting one of my teammates hurt.

“Not too thrilled about it.”

Snider had left the Pittsburgh clubhouse before reporters were allowed in, but Martin made it clear that the Pirates weren’t happy with Maldonado’s role in the incident.

“The fair thing would be to have our team hold down Maldonado so that Travis can go back and sucker-punch him right in the face,” Martin said. “That would be the fair thing to do. I don’t know if we ask the Brewers if they’re going to be down for that.”

I watched this game, so I can tell you for a fact that Cole did indeed swear at Gomez — Cole dropped the f-bomb a few times, in fact.

But was that enough for Gomez to go off like that?

And even if it was, should Gomez have allowed himself to get so carried away, considering he’s one of the most important Brewers on the team?

Personally, I think Gomez should’ve held his temper. He’s said in the past that he wants to set a good example for his young son, which he can’t do if he’s going to be throwing batting helmets or worse, throwing punches, no matter what the provocation.

Worst of all, the fact remains that every pitcher in the league has to know by now that Gomez is such a hothead that he can be removed fairly easily from games merely by taunting him. So if you’re an opposing pitcher, what’s to keep you from trying to “get the edge” by throwing a few f-bombs or whatever it takes to make Gomez go ballistic, which will get him tossed from ballgames like nobody’s business?

As a Brewers fan, I’m appalled that Gomez keeps having these things happen to him. He needs to learn how to hold his temper. It’s not easy, but he has to do it — otherwise his value to the Brewers is much less than it should be.

This is why, as both a person and a fan, I urge the Brewers to get Gomez into counseling before it’s too late.

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