The Arizona Diamondbacks employed the eye-for-an-eye tactic against the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend.
The Pirates beat the Diamondbacks, 9-4, on Friday as Paul Goldschmidt was hit in the hands by a pitch from Ernesto Frieri in the ninth inning. The Diamondbacks slugger then landed on the disabled list with a broken hand.
The Pirates beat the Diamondbacks, 8-3, on Saturday as Andrew McCutchen was hit in the back by a pitch from Randall Delgado in the ninth inning.
The Pirates slugger is likely headed to the disabled list, too, with a strained oblique.
McCutchen actually suffered the ailment on a swing in the eighth inning of the Pirates 3-2 loss in 10 innings to Arizona on Sunday. He took an awkward swing on a ball and was unable to run to first base at an ample speed.
He favored his left side while walking back to the dugout and needed assistance to the clubhouse.
"It's rare that you hear about McCutchen being injured," said Mike Oz of Yahoo.com. "His durability has been another of his top contributions to the Pirates since joining the team in 2010. This would be his first time on the disabled list. He's missed just 14 games combined the past three seasons."
The injury may not be an exact result of being hit in the back, but it's not a far stretch. He lay in pain on Saturday night, but before being hit, in an attempt to dodge the throw McCutchen twisted erratically which could have strained his muscles.
"They had all game to retaliate," McCutchen told reporters on Saturday. "They had the first inning to retaliate. They had that first pitch (in the ninth) to retaliate. They missed. You throw a slider the second pitch. Then you throw up and in on the third pitch. Are you trying to hurt me, too? That's the question."
Video evidence, surfaced by Pirates blog "From Forbes to Federal" shows that Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montoro intentionally signaled inside to hit McCutchen.
"Real classy, Montero," the website points out. "Cameras catch everything."
The act did seem deliberate and it's hard to tell if the hit by pitch, which plunked McCutchen right between the numbers, had a direct role in his injury less than 24 hours later. It certainly didn't take away any stress from his back.
"The last swing … I really don't know," McCutchen told Tom Singer of Pirates.com, trying to pinpoint the source of the discomfort. "I thought it was cramping. I've never had problems in that area."
What McCutchen does have a lot of is hits. And home runs. And RBIs. And leadership skills.
He was 6 for 19 in the last four games, reaching base safely in all of those games. McCutchen currently sports a .311 batting average with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs. He was the starting center fielder for the National League in this season's All-Star Game and he was named the league's most valuable player for the 2013 season.
Now, he appears to be headed to the disabled list, right when the Pirates need him the most.
They enter August one and a half games back of first place in the NL Central Division with a 59-52 record. The St. Louis Cardinals are in second place and the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place, a position they've held all season.
The Cincinnati Reds have been dropping back in the standings due to injuries to a pair of star players — Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. The Cardinals have had to play without the services of standout catcher Yadier Molina. And the Pirates have to learn how to play without McCutchen leading the way in centerfield.
The Brewers have been lucky to not have to deal with an injury to any of their top players. That alone could separate them from the rest of the division.
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