Minnesota's lefty sensation, Scott Diamond was recently suspended six games for throwing a ball behind Josh Hamilton's head in retaliation for Roy Oswalt's beaning of Joe Mauer. Consider what happened.
Chain of events:
- The count was 3-0 and Oswalt threw an inside pitch to Mauer, hitting him in the upper back.
- Hamilton is at bat and Diamond sailed a pitch behind the batters helmet.
- Diamond is instantly ejected from the game.
- A day later, MLB suspends Scott Diamond for six games for his actions.
Oswalt has never been associated with control issues during his 12-year career (3.54 SO/BB, low WPs) and claimed the pitch got away. As FSN's Ron Coomer put it, "...Oswalt, a guy who has always had good command…misses his target by about three-and-half feet...this is absolutely on purpose."
Firstly, Oswalt was pitching to Joe Mauer. If he were to purposely hit anyone in the Twins lineup, it'd be Mauer. Why? Mauer is one of the best hitters in baseball and he is somewhat of a softy when it comes to injures. So why not throw at him and get the Twins catcher out of the 2-2 game?
Secondly, Mauer isn't one of the best hitters because he swings and hits everything, but because he is selective and walks a lot. Mauer has walked 202 times out of 208 when facing a 3-0 count. However, the desperate Oswalt felt that he could still get Mauer with an inside pitch. Apparently.
On the other hand, Diamond was sticking up for Mauer when his torpedoed a pitch behind Hamilton's head in the bottom of the third inning.
Like the well versed Oswalt, the novice Diamond claimed afterwards that he was trying to throw inside on Hamilton and the pitch got away from him. To Diamond's credit, one could argue that his ability to control pitches isn't comparable that of Oswalt:
To Diamond's credit, Mauer stated, "I don’t think he was trying to throw it there." Of course, in hindsight, any plea from Diamond and Mauer is essentially a moot point. MLB is going to be more in favor of a well-liked veteran who claims the pitch got away than a novice who claimed the pitch got away when retaliation was a clear motive.
Lastly, consider umpire Wally Bell statement: "Any time in an umpire's judgment that they go in the head area, we have to take care of business. I felt at the time that he had to be ejected for it."
That is an interesting choice of words because the Oswalt pitch hit Mauer below the neck. Clearly, Mauer had just enough time to turn his back protect his neck and head from the rising heater. If Mauer hadn't moved, the pitch would have hit him in the neck/head region.
I guess it's all about who are you, how you throw at someone and when you throw it. However, in the grand scheme of things, setting Diamond's next start date back a few days probably won't affect the Twins season too much (or at all).