Major League Baseball is cracking down. Harshly. It was announced today that it was suspending AJ Burnett 6 games for throwing inside to the Rangers Nelson Cruz on Tuesday night. MLB felt that the pitch, which narrowly missed hitting Cruz in the head, was intentional.
After Burnett threw the pitch, both benches were warned by the umpire, but Burnett was not thrown out of the game.
Both Burnett and Vicente Padilla, the Rangers’ starting pitcher Tuesday, were also fined an undisclosed amount, but Padilla was not suspended despite hitting Mark Teixeira twice in the game.
Although the suspension does seem a little harsh, this is not the only time this season that MLB has issued a suspension this tough. Boston’s Josh Beckett was also suspended six games for throwing at Bobby Abreu earlier this season. However, the differences between the two situations make the suspension seem too harsh.
In a game between Boston and the LA Angels, Beckett had not been paying attention toward home plate when Abreu called time and began to pitch anyway. The ball went at Abreu and he felt as if he was thrown at and raised his arms. Beckett then walked off the mound quickly, screaming at Abreu in a way that MLB called “aggressive.” This caused the benches to clear and a small “scuffle” to ensue.
Burnett’s pitch clearly was retribution for Padilla hitting Teixeira twice, first in the bottom of the second, and again in his next at bat in the fourth. I think we can also assume a little of it was because of Cruz’s three-run homer in the third which gave Texas the lead.
Regardless of the retribution, there was no aggressive behavior by Burnett, who has been suspended before for aggressive actions. Burnett has never been suspended before today.
Burnett has already suspended the punishment and will be allowed to pitch until the hearing is held. His next start is scheduled for Sunday against Tampa Bay. No word on when the hearing will be held. Beckett’s suspension was lowered to five games, hopefully Burnett’s is lowered to 3 or 4 games, which will not cause him to miss a start.