The Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers brawled Sunday, igniting a rivalry between the National League Central members that closed a four-game series in Pittsburgh Sunday. The Brewers also pulled off another victory, 3-2 over the Pirates in 14 innings at PNC Park Saturday. It was the Brewers sixth win in seven meeting this year between the two teams.
The brawl occurred after Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez flipped his bat and stared at a ball he hit off Gerrit Cole. Gomez assumed the ball was leaving the ball park and went into his home run trot. When the ball caromed off the wall Gomez hustled into third base and got an earful from Cole. Benches cleared immediately and a few punches were thrown but no one was hurt.
“I grabbed the ball,” Cole said. “I said, ‘If you’re going to hit a home run, you can watch it. If you’re going to hit a fly ball to center field, don’t watch it.’
Gomez did not appreciate an opposing player talking to him at all and let Cole know and a division rival game just got turned up a couple notches.
The Pirates have now fallen 8-11 on the season, winning just two of their last ten games and falling six games behind the Brewers in the National League Central. Milwaukee on the other hand lifted their record 14-5 on the season, the best in Major League baseball and extended their NL Central lead to three games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Like it or not the Pirates have let the Brewers define their early existence in the 2014 season and the definition would read that the Pirates are not as good as Milwaukee is at the moment. The good news is Pittsburgh has been a better than .500 team save for the meetings with Milwaukee. The bad news, the obvious news is they play in the same division and have 12 more meetings this season. Fortunately for the Pirates they now host four straight games with the Cincinnati Reds, perhaps their biggest rival in the division.
The animosity dates back to last season when several batters were plunked when the two met one another in the regular season and culminated in the NL Wild Card game when the Pirates advanced to meet the Cardinals and the Reds were sent home. “We did develop an old-school rivalry,” manager Clint Hurdle said, referencing the bean balls and brush back pitches that marked the competition last season.
Hurdle is counting on No. 1 starter Francisco Liriano to get his season on track as the left-hander opens the series against Mike Leake. Liriano is winless on the season but traditionally starts slow. Hurdle hopes his ace starts heating up tonight.
Milwaukee on the other hand gets their next six games at home, hosting the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs and a chance to extend their league in the NL Central a little more. The Brewers can likely expect to be without Gomez for a game or two as he threw a couple punches in Sunday’s fight. If Gomez accepts the likely suspension and does not appeal at least his team will be facing the last place Cubs and a sub .500 Padre team.
Gomez can afford a couple of days off. His Brewers are rolling and show no signs of slowing down. This is what the good teams do. They win most of their games and in the process ignite rivalries, usually in their own division. Consider the Pirates and Brewers just such a rivalry.
Commentary by Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Pittsburgh Pirates