Fireworks aren’t the only things going off on the Fourth of July this year.
During Thursday’s Cubs-Pirates game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon got ejected in one of the strangest altercations in recent memory. Maddon found himself in an argument not only with home plate umpire Joe West, but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Based on the game’s television broadcast, Maddon appeared to be upset with Hurdle. Pirates starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, a right-hander, had thrown many pitches up and in to right-handed Cubs hitters at that point in the game. The latest pitch hit the knob of Javier Baez’s bat on a 3-2 count.
Jordan Lyles has thrown a ton of pitches up and in today. The latest hit the knob of Javier Baez's bat, quite possibly what set Joe Maddon off. pic.twitter.com/wTrhjlOHl1— Tim Stebbins (@tim_stebbins) July 4, 2019
The ball that hit Baez's bat pic.twitter.com/bG40DYDCO6— Tim Stebbins (@tim_stebbins) July 4, 2019
Baez was demonstrative towards Lyles after the pitch, though it’s hard to make out what he said. The same goes for Maddon, who was visibly upset from the Cubs’ dugout. Maddon made his way out onto the field, though home plate umpire Joe West tossed the Cubs manager almost immediately after.
West seemed to misunderstand whom Maddon was directing his feelings to from the Cubs’ dugout. In fact, Maddon tried to get past West to reach Hurdle, hitting the B button to use a nifty spin move.
SPIN MOVE!!!! pic.twitter.com/8dHg2lS8C1— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 4, 2019
Maddon didn’t get by West, though it took several Cubs and two umpires total to restrain him. Baez’s at-bat ended with a strikeout, but the up and in pitches didn’t end there. Lyles exited the game in the fifth inning, and reliever Clay Holmes hit David Bote in the head on the second batter he faced.
Bote stayed in the game after a long discussion with the Cubs trainer, picking up an RBI, as the Cubs had the bases loaded. West gave both teams warnings, though no one else was ejected for the two incidents. The end result was the Cubs scoring five times in the top of the fifth inning, extending their lead to 9-3.
The Cubs have been stuck in a prolonged slump, holding a 4-13 road record since May 27, entering Thursday's action. Perhaps Maddon sticking up for his squad is exactly what the team needs to turn things around for the better.
Update: Here's what Maddon had to say postgame
Joe Maddon - with an empty glass of red wine on his desk - said Pirates tendency to go up and in has gotten out of hand. Said he “can’t wait” to face Pirates in Chicago next week.— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) July 4, 2019
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Maddon: "I love their players. It's a good team. It's a real good team. And they're good guys. I like the guys on this team but if they keep pitching like that, a lot of these guys are not going to like their pitching staff." #Pirates— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) July 4, 2019