Major League Baseball has suspended Jonathan Papelbon three games and fined the Nationals closer an undisclosed amount for intentionally throwing at Manny Machado during Wednesday night's loss to the Orioles.
Papelbon has appealed the ruling and will remain eligible to pitch until his case is heard, the Nationals said.
MLB's ruling, made by senior vice president of standards and on-field operations Joe Garagiola Jr., cited Papelbon "throwing a pitch in the head area" of Machado in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game, an offense the league office takes seriously.
The incident occurred two innings after Machado hit a towering, 2-run homer off Max Scherzer that gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Baltimore's All-Star third baseman admired the home run and took 26.61 seconds to round the bases, according to Tater Trot Tracker, though Scherzer and Nationals manager Matt Williams said they took no issue with Machado's reaction.
Papelbon, though, threw a first-pitch fastball near Machado's head with two outs in the top of the ninth. After a slider away, his again threw a fastball high-and-tight, this time hitting Machado in the left shoulder. Plate umpire Mark Ripperger immediately ejected the right-hander. Both benches emptied, but neither side engaged in any real activities.
"It's something that's uncalled for," Machado said afterward. "It's [garbage]. It's something that you don't do. I expect more from a guy like that, with the past that he has. You've just got to go out there and keep playing baseball. It's part of the game. If you can't take the heat, just stay out of the kitchen and just go on from it. You don't throw at somebody's head. I think that's [garbage]. I think we've just got to keep playing baseball."
Papelbon didn't admit he threw at Machado on purpose but didn't deny the accusation, either.
"They just said they deemed it intentional. They didn't give me any reason," he said. "I don't know if they have to give me a reason or not. But perception is reality. If Manny thinks I hit him, then that's what he thinks. I'm not going to sit here and go back and forth whether I did or whether I didn't, cause it doesn't matter. If he thinks I did, that's what he thinks."
Papelbon didn't receive much support from within the Nationals clubhouse after the game, with right fielder and presumptive NL MVP Bryce Harper publicly calling his teammate out and questioning whether he'd be the subject of retaliation from the Orioles the following day.
"I mean, Manny freaking hit a homer and walked it off, and somebody drilled him," Harper said. "It's pretty tired. It's one of those situations where it happens. I don't know. I'll probably get drilled tomorrow. We'll see what happens."
The Orioles didn't retaliate at all Thursday, with manager Buck Showalter saying beforehand he though the best revenge would be winning the game. His team did just that, riding Matt Wieters' eighth-inning homer off Blake Treinen to a 5-4 victory and series sweep.
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