By MyFM's Jake Archer - Over the past few years, the Red Sox and Orioles rivalry has kind of moved to the forefront of bad blood matchups in baseball. With the Sox and Yankees rivalry having been pretty much dead for a while now, I’ve welcomed the head-butting with Baltimore. This weekend, everything just got more intense and I think we’re headed for a 2017 full of fireworks between the two clubs.
On Friday night, the Sox dropped the first game of the series to the Orioles by a score of 2-0. It was another frustrating no-show by the Sox bats that wasted a good start from Drew Pomeranz. However, the big story of the night had little to do with any of that. Instead, the focus was on one play that happened in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Orioles star third basemen Manny Machado would slide hard into second base as Dustin Pedroia was receiving the ball from Xander Bogaerts to turn a double play. Machado went in with a late slide and raised his foot up, spiking Pedroia in the back of the left leg and taking him down to break up the double play. Pedroia would go to the ground hurt, and ultimately limp off the field and out of the game with the help of Sox manager John Farrell and the training staff.
The slide by Machado has drawn a lot of attention and created a lot of controversy. I haven’t however, seen or heard anyone but Orioles fans defending the play he made. It was clearly a dirty slide and his foot was lifted intentionally to take Pedroia out. I’m all for hard slides and being competitive, but this was a malicious move by a guy with a history of doing things like throwing bats at opposing players.
A lot of people who have defended Machado said that he would not intentionally try to hurt Pedroia because they are friends. That’s fine, but I don’t think that is where his head was at. I think that Machado immediately regretted the move, but I think he went in to clean Pedroia out and maybe make him feel it a bit with a spike. The fact that he stood up to try to catch Pedroia falling down was just trying to save face as he realized what he just pulled.
Regardless of all of that, the new rules about sliding into bases should have taken care of what happened here. The umpires royally screwed this one up by not enforcing the rule that you cannot over-slide the base. Pedroia was on the back end of the base and Machado had to go over it to hit him. It should have been ruled a double play.
The Red Sox players were clearly agitated with Machado and with the umpires and you could tell that something would be brewing during the rest of the weekend. To Pedroia’s credit, he didn’t get all that upset about the whole thing and just chalked it up to “It’s baseball, man.” However, if you know anything about baseball, you know that Machado wouldn’t get out of the series without seeing some retribution.
On Saturday, Pedroia was still hurting and he’d ultimately end up taking the rest of the weekend off to heal up. The game was rather uneventful, as the Sox had knuckleballer Steven Wright on the mound. Machado wouldn’t be getting hit with a pitch from Wright, because Wright’s fastball doesn’t exactly get up there in speed. The only moment of note for the Sox would be a mammoth homerun from Jackie Bradley Jr. who had just returned from the disabled list a day before. JBJ jacked one deep and on to Eutaw Street, something that is rather rare and will get you your one plaque for the feat. The Sox would lose the game though, 4-2.
In the series finale on Sunday, the Sox were just trying to salvage a win but they also had something else in mind. Eduardo Rodriguez would get the start on the mound and pitch a gem as he went six innings, giving up only one hit, no runs and striking out seven. He did throw three pitches down and in near Machado’s knees in the sixth inning but he was having location issues all day as he walked five, so it’s tough to say those were indeed intentional.
Rodriguez got staked to an early lead as the Sox bats finally woke up and started hitting homers. Mookie Betts knocked a three run homer in the first inning and on the next pitch Hanley Ramirez went deep as well to put the Sox up 4-0 early. Mitch Moreland would also homer in the fifth inning and Andrew Benintendi would go 5-for-5 and knock in the sixth run.
The eighth inning is where things got really interesting however. The Sox were up 6-0 and Matt Barnes was on the mound to face Manny Machado. Barnes would whizz a fastball behind Machado’s head and hit his bat, which caused quite the uproar. Going up and in is a sketchy business and Barnes appeared to be sending a message. He didn’t hit Machado, but he might as well have because anytime you go near a guy’s head its serious business. Barnes was immediately ejected and will probably be suspended by Major League Baseball at some point today.
I’m all for beaning a guy as retaliation, but you can’t go up on them. Even trying to hit a guy in the shoulder is too much, because a pitch could easily slip out of a guy’s hands and end up in the wrong spot. Pedroia and Machado were caught on camera going back and forth after the pitch and Pedroia appeared to be telling Machado that he didn’t call for that to happen. It’s interesting that Pedroia didn’t want it, but the Red Sox went ahead and did it.
Pedroia and Barnes apologized after the game but the Orioles sent shots at the Red Sox through the media. The two teams will meet up quite a few more times this season, with the next being on May 1st at Fenway Park. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.