I am not saying that newly-called-up Brewers reliever Brad Boxberger went out there tonight in the 9th to hit Willson Contreras. I’m pretty sure even Contreras doesn’t think that.
But when you got domed the night before and then you get hit again – for the SIXTH TIME by the Brewers in the last 11 games against them – you’re going to react, even if only for an angry flourish:
After getting hit in the helmet yesterday, Willson Contreras gets hit again tonight and he is not happy. Multiple #Cubs hitters have been either hit or thrown at during the series so far.
— Cubz Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) April 7, 2021
Contreras was just pissed there. You can understand it, not only because of the team-wide context, but also because he has, himself been hit so many times:
The Brewers are certainly not trying to hit Willson Contreras in the ninth inning with a four-run lead and a pitcher just activated this afternoon from the Alt Site. But as Travis Shaw just said, you can understand why Contreras' temper flared. pic.twitter.com/z9VseRoscx
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) April 7, 2021
That’s a whole lotta getting hit by the same team over a very short stretch of games. After the game, David Ross articulated the issue with these HBPs, telling Cubs.com: “I think [Willson] just took exception to getting hit in the head yesterday, and then up around the shoulder, elbow area. It’s just scary right now. At some point, you have to be better. You can’t just continue to try to pitch in and hit guys. You’ve got to be better.”
In other words, if you cannot reasonably locate your pitches on the inner half, then you should be thinking quite a bit about whether it’s worth going in there. Not only because you might give up a quick free baserunner, but because you might risk a serious injury for the batter, and reprisals for your teammates.
I’m reminded of something former Cubs catcher John Baker discussed when it came to a period of time when the Pirates were notorious for hitting batters. Retaliation – or the threat of retaliation – wasn’t just about getting back at a team or whatever. Sometimes, it was about sending the message to the other team in precisely a situation like this: you have to stop hitting our guys, accident or no. If you can’t pitch inside safely, you should reconsider your approach.
I don’t know if I agree with it or not, but after seeing the Cubs get hit more than any team in baseball the last couple years, I’m getting aggravated. Yeah, Anthony Rizzo makes it his business to sit on top of the plate, but that ain’t everybody. And yet everybody is getting hit all the time – especially Willson Contreras lately by the Brewers.
I doubt this will be the end of this conversation among the teams. They play again Wednesday afternoon in the series finale, though I suppose the threat of a Kyle Hendricks fastball isn’t quite as menacing as that of Brandon Woodruff …
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