Pirates Notebook: Capps' plunking of Pujols causes stir
St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols is hit by a pitch from Pirates pitcher Matt Capps in the eighth inning yesterday.
Share with others:
Matt Capps, the Pirates' closer, insisted he did not intend to hit St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols in the eighth inning yesterday, but he acknowledged the obvious: It sure looked bad.
"I wasn't happy about it," Capps said. "He's Albert Pujols. He's one of the classiest guys in baseball, the guy you want to compete against. I understand how it looked. But that wasn't the plan."
Pujols said he did not think it was intentional, but his manager, Tony La Russa, said he thought it was.
This is how it played out ...
Capps had just given up Skip Schumaker's two-run home run that put St. Louis ahead, 4-3. His first pitch to Pujols was a slider, and the next, a 95-mph fastball, struck Pujols in the ribs.
Pujols, the game's premier hitter, has been hit six times this season, and La Russa is an outspoken advocate against pitchers throwing at hitters. Thus, the Cardinals' reaction was predictably emotional: Several leaped to the dugout railing, ready to join in whatever followed.
Not much did: Pujols moved slowly out of the box, then, after Capps put his head down and his hands on his knees, jogged to first base.
"He didn't say anything," Pirates catcher Jason Jaramillo said.
Capps was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook, even though there was no warning, but that is becoming increasingly common when a batter is hit right after a home run. Pirates manager John Russell argued for only a minute or so.
Capps' "plan" for Pujols?
"I started him with a slider and was going to go hard in," Capps said. "I got a little too fast, and it got away from me."
Pujols was asked what he thought about being hit.
"I don't think anything," he said. "I don't think he did it on purpose, but it looked bad."
La Russa appeared to blame Pirates pitching coach Joe Kerrigan for the matter, though without mentioning him by name.
"I think the umpire read it exactly right. I think it was an intentional hit," La Russa said. "And there's no doubt in my mind it came from the bench. I really believe it didn't come from the manager. Don't ask me to expound on that. That's my comment."
Neither Russell nor Kerrigan was available after La Russa's comment to respond, but Capps said, "I wasn't told to do anything."
Capps likely faces a Major League Baseball suspension, particularly given that he was suspended once previously, four games for hitting the Milwaukee Brewers' Prince Fielder on May 5, 2007. That, too, came right after a home run.
"I was really unhappy about being tossed there," Capps said. "It is what it is."
• Phil Dumatrait will make one more rehabilitation start for Class AAA Indianapolis, at which point management will evaluate whether to promote him to Pittsburgh.
• The Pirates are discussing going with a six-man rotation in September, with Jose Ascanio, currently in the bullpen, the choice for No. 6.
• Bryan Morris, the pitching prospect suspended from Class A Lynchburg for berating an umpire last week, will rejoin that team before the end of its season, Huntington said, but there is no firm date yet.
• In what surely was the fiddle-while-Rome-burns moment of the summer at PNC Park, right after Capps was ejected and the crowd was booing all that it saw in that eighth inning, the public address system blared Frankie Yankovic's "Let's All Dance the Pittsburgh Polka."
First Published August 10, 2009 12:00 am