Given the recent bad blood between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, it shouldn’t be surprising that Baltimore pitcher Kevin Gausman was ejected after hitting Xander Bogaerts with a pitch.
What is surprising is that Gausman was ejected after hitting Bogaerts with a curveball.
— BoSox Injection (@BoSoxInjection) May 4, 2017
On the one hand, umpire Sam Holbrook was in a tough spot. Commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly reached out to both the Orioles and Red Sox, telling them that he had seen enough. You can bet he did the same thing with the umpires.
With that said, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports detailed, no pregame warnings were issued. Additionally, even if warnings were issued, the umpires do have discretion in those situations. Given the bad blood, ejecting a player makes sense if there’s even an inkling that the pitch might have been intentional.
But if a pitcher is going to throw at a batter, it’s not going to be with a curveball that didn’t even crack 77 on the radar gun. On top of that, it’s much easier for a curveball to get away and go right into someone’s back.
Even Red Sox announcer Dennis Eckersley was in shock at what he saw.
The Eck: "If I'm Sam Holbrook, I'm embarrassed right now."
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) May 3, 2017
We could maybe cut a young umpire some slack. But a veteran umpire who’s called two World Series should know better than that. Holbrook dropped the ball on this one.