When pitchers throw at an opposing hitter as an act of retaliation, they won't often admit they did so intentionally, even if it's obvious.
Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove recently owned up to his actions—and now he is paying the price.
On June 11, Pittsburgh second baseman Josh Harrison was hit in the back by a pitch from Arizona right-hander Braden Shipley in the top of the seventh. Musgrove then drilled Owings on the backside with the first pitch in the bottom of the inning.
The 25-year-old pitcher made it clear after the game he was sticking up for his teammate.
"That's how I was raised to play the game. You protect your teammates, especially when a guy gets hit high up and in," Musgrove said, per MLB.com's Adam Berry. "He got hit 25 or so times last year, got hit in the hand earlier this year with the same injury as last year. That's something we don't want to allow to happen anymore."
He hit three batters in the contest, including Jake Lamb in the fourth and John Ryan Murphy in the sixth.
The decision to hit Owings cost Musgrove more than just a grand—it helped cost his team the game.
Arizona entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 5-0. The Diamondbacks would go on to score five runs in the inning to tie the game, and it took the lead with four more in the eighth to pull out a 9-5 victory.
While Pirates manager Clint Hurdle may not have been happy with the way his team blew the lead, he appreciated that his players stuck up for one another, per Berry:
"The importance of teammates taking a stand for one another, I think that is part of the game. Everybody can construct their own narrative afterward. But I know [Harrison] has been hit a ton, been hit a lot. This club is working very hard to really maintain the cohesiveness through a tough period of play and not to back down or back away. Just plunking our guys, whether it's accidental or not, is just not OK."
Nobody would have believed Musgrove had he denied throwing at Owings. At the same time, though, MLB can't have pitchers publicly admitting to going after hitters. That's why a fine, although relatively insignificant, was in order. And the third-year pitcher will learn from the situation.
Musgrove told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"I'll probably have to be careful more with my comments next time. But I mean that's the game and I think they understood it was intentional, but they also came back and hit Sean [Rodriguez in] the [ninth] inning, so I don't know what their interviews looked like or if they had any repercussions for it. ... We understand how the game works, and they knew on that side what the idea was, and I hit him in a good spot I felt like, so it wasn't anything out of the ordinary."