There’s absolutely no doubt there’s bad blood between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees. Remember that game three years ago when CC Sabathia gave up his bonus to protect Austin Romine after Romine was intentionally thrown at his head? Remember all the intentional hit by pitches the Rays threw at the Yankees since then and vice versa?
You may have wondered when the Yankees and Rays were going to renew their rivalry. Well, if you banked on Sept. 1 of this season, you would be absolutely right.
Masahiro Tanaka notched the start against the Rays, and in the first inning hit batter Joey Wendle before recording a scoreless top of the first. The Yankees scored five runs because DJ LeMahieu homered twice and weird things happened. By the time the ninth rolled around, the Yankees called upon Aroldis Chapman to close the game. However, Chapman was erratic and almost hit Mike Brosseau with a 101 MPH pitch. Chapman’s actions caused the benches to clear, and Rays manager Kevin Cash to make reprehensible comments.
Wendle insisted Tanaka threw at him on purpose while Brosseau was unsure if there was actual intent in Chapman throwing at his head. The major consensus is Tanaka didn’t intend to throw intentionally at Wendle, which was my belief as well. Tanaka prides himself on doing the best job possible on the mound, and will become critical of himself if he makes the slightest mistake. Does anyone recall the one hit complete game shutout, and Tanaka was critical because he gave up one hit? It’s hard to see Tanaka of all people allowing a baserunner by any means necessary.
When it comes to Chapman, the consensus is more divided. Many believe Chapman didn’t throw at Brosseau intentionally, but was simply erratic. Others believe Chapman threw at Brosseau’s head with intent. If we were to make a case for Chapman, this was Chapman’s third appearance since a 10-game layoff. According to the pitch tracker, Chapman’s fastball has been rather erratic this season, which could solidify his case of him unintentionally aiming for Brosseau’s head.
Here is Aroldis Chapman’s location on four-seam fastballs this season. pic.twitter.com/dnuOj1MsYe
— Seth Rothman (@SethDRothman) September 2, 2020
However, Chapman’s actions following the attempted hit-by-pitch make you wonder if he actually meant to throw intentionally. Chapman took a couple of steps from the mound to home plate when the Rays became agitated over Chapman’s head hunting. Not to mention Chapman made himself unavailable to the media following the game.
So did Chapman throw at Brosseau with intent? I believe Chapman intended to throw up and in–which I do not condone and it shouldn’t have been done in the first place, but his erratic fastball went for Brosseau’s head instead of the desired location. But if Chapman did throw intentionally at Brosseau’s head, he could be in for a lengthy suspension.
All eyes will be on the Yankees and Rays tonight in case things get out of hand. But it seems likely warnings will be issued before either team decides to throw a pitch.