Will Halladay leave with a plunk?
That’s the old-fashioned way the game is played by Cito Gaston and after Jonathan Papelbon drilled Adam Lind in the ninth inning Tuesday night, running a 94-mile-an-hour fastball in on his elbow after Lind had clubbed three home runs, it seemed inevitable that someone was going down on the other side.
The umpires did nothing, not even issue a warning, but that’s typical; umpires often are intimidated in Fenway Park. (Remember the time Pedro Martinez, during a Yankee-Red Sox brawl, pointed to his head and told Jorge Posada, “You’re next,’’ and not only didn’t get suspended, he didn’t even get ejected.)
Papelbon made the usual excuses about the pitch getting away and how there was no intent and so on. For the record, Lind said he bought the explanation. Off the record, I doubt many Jays did. Because the the score was 8-7 for the Jays, they couldn’t return fire immediately. But someone – and it should be Halladay – will act tonight and surely the Red Sox know this.
That’s the question: Why would the Red Sox go out of their way to drill Lind, figuring one of their guys will get it tonight? What if a brushback pitch gets away and breaks somebody’s hand? The Red Sox, a post-season team, have plenty to lose if somebody gets hurt at this point in a meaningless game. They likely will sit out a couple of stars anyway, having clinched the wild-card spot by virtue of Texas losing Tuesday night to Anaheim. But one or two of the regulars might be up there wondering who is wearing the target.
You recall how it went recently against the Yankees. New York pitchers hit one Blue Jay through the two teams’ first 12 meetings, but in that 12th game, the Jays hit both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. That seemed to flip a switch; in the next five games, eight Jays were hit by Yankee pitchers and finally, Jesse Carlson said enough is enough and threw behind Posada, eventually setting off that a fight. Carlson handled that correctly, sending a cease-and-desist message without hurting anyone with a pitch. Let’s see how the Jays, starting with Halladay, deal with this situation tonight.