The Cubs advanced to the NLDS last night with a 4-0 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Chicago ace Jake Arrieta, who won 22 games in the regular season, pitched a gem of a complete-game shutout – surrendering four hits and striking out 11.
But the most exciting moment of the game came not when Arrieta was on the mound but rather in the batter’s box. In the bottom of the seventh inning, with two outs and nobody on base, Pittsburgh reliever Tony Witson hit Arrieta in the hip, which – regardless of whether it was intentional – quickly caused the benches to clear.
As is tradition in basebrawls, mostly the players on the two teams just stood very close to one another and pointed fingers and yelled a little bit. The relievers came trotting out from the bullpens, and the umpires quickly corralled everyone back to their proper dugouts.
And then there was Pirates first baseman Sean Rodriguez. Rodriguez had been pulled from the game in the third inning and got right in the middle of the scuffle and completely lost his head, to the point that he was ejected and needed to be restrained by his teammates.
Rodriguez himself didn’t throw any punches, but said after the game that someone on the Cubs had grabbed his throat during the height of the incident. When he returned to the dugout, still fuming, Rodriguez unleashed a fury of punches on a Gatorade cooler and promptly bowed out into the clubhouse.
Take a look for yourself:
Note that this isn’t the first time Rodriguez has gone at it with an inanimate object. In 2012, when Rodriguez was on the Tampa Bay Rays, he broke his hand by punching a locker because he felt a minor league player had disrespected him.
Here’s the full incident of the play, starting with Arrieta getting plunked.
Aside for a few testy minutes in the seventh, the rest of the game was a decidedly ho-hum affair. The Pirates rarely threatened, and on offense the Cubs did enough early to keep the Pittsburgh fans from being a real factor.
Chicago move on to face the Cardinals, who they’ll play in St. Louis on Friday night for Game 1. The Pirates, meanwhile, bow out of the playoffs after just one game, despite 98 wins. Last night’s loss marked the fourth consecutive playoff loss for Pittsburgh, and their second-straight Wild Card loss.