Ryan Braun continued his hot streak and belted his fifth home run in the bottom of the first, cutting the Pirates lead to 2-1.
On his next at-bat, Braun was plunked in the upper back by Pirates' pitcher, Jeff Karstens. It was quite obvious there was intent by Karstens and warnings were given to both teams.
The Pirates are in a position that most of the current Brewers have already been. They are a young, talented team trying to make their mark in the National League Central. In fact, the Pirates have gotten off to a very good start this season and sit in second place in the division.
Although the Pirates are playing well, respect isn't easily given out in baseball, as the Brewers have learned over the past few years.
I understand why Karstens threw the pitch he did to Braun. He needs to send a message to himself, his teammates, and the Brewers that the Pirates won't just roll over after a rough couple of innings. Unfortunately, the best way for Karstens to do that is to not let all his pitches hang in the strike zone.
The Brewers kept their cool and had the best response possible. When the game was tied 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth, the offense erupted for five runs against the Pirates pitching.
Even though the Brewers got the last laugh and won the game, don't expect what happened to Braun to go unanswered. Yes, in theory, it is quite immature to engage in a contest of which team can hit the other team's batters, but it is about much more than that.
It's about respect.
The Brewers have earned it around the game, and the Pirates are still in the process of earning it.
Do not be surprised tonight if Nyjer Morgan takes a pitch in the middle of his back to start the game. Dave Bush knows the importance of sticking up for his teammates and that will serve as a message to the Pirates: They may be an improved team, but they still have a lot of work to do before they become an elite one.
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