Pretty strange that there seemed to be more controversial hits in the Orioles-Blue Jays game than the one that took place at M&T Bank Stadium.
Reliever Alfredo Simon and manager Buck Showalter were ejected in the fifth inning today after the right-hander drilled former Oriole Jose Bautista with a pitch. Bautista had been hit earlier in the game by Orioles starter Rick VandenHurk - also on the left arm - and Toronto starter Shaun Marcum grazed Luke Scott's ribs in apparent retaliation, causing plate umpire Bill Welke to warn both benches.
The Blue Jays are convinced that Showalter sent Simon into the game to target Bautista again, though I'm not sure why the Orioles would have formulated such a plan. The Jays apparently think Simon has pinpoint control.
"I guess that's how they do things over there," Marcum said while venting to reporters. "I think we have a little more respect for the game and respect for players on other teams. We're not going to throw at them on purpose, even if they have 50-plus homers. It is part of baseball; I understand you have to pitch people inside, but to bring a guy in from the bullpen and throw two pitches at him and then get ejected, it seemed like it was very intentional."
Suspicions were further raised because Simon doesn't usually pitch the fifth inning. Well, VandenHurk doesn't usually start for the Orioles and the bullpen hasn't been needed much immediately after the fourth.
Simon naturally insisted that he wasn't aiming at Bautista. Pitchers won't normally admit it, though former Oriole Josh Towers was a memorable exception. Towers had no problem telling reporters once that he drilled a batter on purpose, and we'll forever love the guy for being that honest and providing a great quote.
It's probably a good thing that the Orioles are done playing the Jays, and not only because they lose at an alarming rate.
VandenHurk allowed three runs and threw 87 pitches in four innings. His next turn falls on Saturday unless Showalter decides to tweak his rotation.
VandenHurk is out of options next spring and the Orioles need to take a long look at him and decide whether he's a candidate for the rotation or a long relief role.
The Jays are convinced that Simon is baseball's version of a hockey goon.