Perhaps it was the frustration of playing in the wild-card game for a second straight season and seeing another zero on the scoreboard next to their name. Or maybe it was the after effect of a borderline dirty slide a few weeks ago from Chris Coghlan that knocked Jung Ho Kang out for the season. Or maybe it was just baseball.
The Pittsburgh Pirates trailed the Chicago Cubs 4-0 in the top of the seventh when relief pitcher Tony Watson threw an inside fastball that hit Cubs ace Jake Arrieta on the thigh, leading to a bench-clearing incident that didn't escalate much beyond some shouting and Pirates infielder Sean Rodriguez (who had already been removed the game) getting ejected and then taking it out on a Gatorade cooler in the dugout. Arrieta had previously hit two batters in the game and had come up-and-in at least twice.
The Pirates had also run into some bad luck the previous inning. After Arrieta dominated through five innings, Travis Snider led off the sixth with a hard single to right. Gregory Polanco then hit a liner to third base, but a pulled-in Kris Bryant made a terrific play, getting his glove up to knock the ball into the air and make the catch before the ball hit the ground. After Arrieta hit Josh Harrison, Addison Russell bobbled Andrew McCutchen's hard grounder to load the bases. With the crowd in a frenzy -- in what had to be viewed as a must-score situation -- Starling Marte then smashed another hard grounder, but right to Russell, who started the 6-4-3 double play. Four hard-hit balls in the inning and no runs.
Some of the bad blood between the team goes back to September, when Cubs outfielder Coghlan took out Kang, tearing up Kang's knee while sliding off the base to break up a double play. Kang had the second-highest OPS on the Pirates and certainly would have been in the lineup for this game.
The Pirates also got rung up twice in the fifth inning by plate umpire Jeff Nelson on breaking balls off the plate. It's hard enough to beat Arrieta without help from the umpire.
I don't think Jake Arrieta needed any more motivation.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 8, 2015
Let's just take a second to think about this. One out, man on and Jake intentionally hits Harrison with a 85-mph pitch to get to Cutch? Nah.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) October 8, 2015
So we wondered going into this game how these teams' familiarity with each other would affect them? Now we know. Temper tantrum!— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 8, 2015