In the first inning of last night's game, A.J. Burnett left a pitch out over the plate that Felix Pie drove the opposite way for his third homer in as many games and 4th in his last 5. Burnett was none too pleased and made the hand gesture shown above in Pie's direction as he was rounding the bases. Burnett later claimed that he said "That's the way to hit a spot" to himself, but to my untrained eye it sure looked like he said something to the effect of "That motherfucker?", in disbelief that he would give up the homer to Pie, of all people. I think the facial expression above sort of speaks for itself.
Baltimore broadcaster Gary Thorne agreed, describing it as referring "to [Pie] in a way that would have upset Pie's entire family, especially on the maternal side". Regardless of what Burnett actually said, some members of the Orioles coaching staff didn't take too kindly to it and informed Pie when he got back in the dugout.In the top of the 8th, Matt Albers and Nick Swisher exchanged some words, after Swisher struck out on a pitch that was well off the plate inside. According to PeteAbe, Albers suggested that he should have swung at it, and Swish is still pretty ticked off about the incident and not opposed to retaliating.
The Orioles have already been mathematically eliminated from winning the division and with a rookie pitcher like Jason Berken on the mound, it isn't too difficult to envision a scenario where a Yankee batter gets plunked in the early going and things get ugly. Berken hasn't been good this year, tallying a 6.33 ERA in 91 innings since being called up at the end of May, so it's not like he's going to tell the team "no" if he's told to take action.
CC Sabathia, on the other hand, has every reason to stay above the fray. He had notched 5 straight victories in a row before getting a no-decision after a solid 7 innings of two run ball against the White Sox last Friday. His ERA is as low as it has been since the beginning of June and he looks to carry his dominant August over into September with a long outing tonight.
The Yanks don't need any suspensions, or worse, injuries resulting from the fact that the O's have nothing to play for right now and nothing better to do than pick fights. Our boys most certainly do have stuff left to play for. Namely completing a sweep of The Birds on their home turf.
Here's to hoping that cooler heads prevail if things get a little heated this evening.