What happened yesterday when Kelvin Herrera hit Josh Donaldson in the face with his change-up was surely an accident. (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison)
It seems like every few games of late there’s been a different Blue Jay batter getting smoked by a pitch in the worst of places. First it was Russell Martin taking a fastball by San Diego’s Jose Dominguez off the back of the shoulder; then Troy Tulowitzki was hit on the hands by a pitch that narrowly missed his face; and lastly, in yesterday’s game against the Royals, Josh Donaldson took a pitch off the cheek in the 9th inning against the hard throwing Kelvin Herrera. Thankfully for Donaldson, the pitch appears to have grazed the ear flap of his batting helmet before making contact with his cheek, and even more importantly, that the pitch was a Herrera change-up, rather than one of his 100 MPH fastballs.
Almost every team in the league these days can boast of having a guy who throws 100 MPH…and at least several others who can throw 97-98 MPH regularly. And it isn’t just power pitchers coming out of the bullpen who are brandishing 100+ MPH fastballs, but also, and with growing frequency starting pitchers as well. One of whom Toronto will be facing on Sunday, Yordano Ventura, who’s developed a reputation as one of the bigger jerks in the game and also a pitcher who far too often will throw at batters for reasons unknown to anyone but himself.
After Donaldson was hit by Herrera, many Toronto fans were up in arms thinking this was just a continuation of the dirty baseball Kansas City exhibited in a mid-season series against the Blue Jays in 2015 where Donaldson was thrown at on several occasions. Despite the Royals reputation for throwing at batters, especially Donaldson, what happened last night was not intentional. Toronto had just gone up 4-3 on a 9th inning solo home run by Devon Travis…and when Donaldson got hit, this was still a ball game the Royals could have easily come back and tied or won in the bottom half. Just look at the way Salvador Perez reacts after Donaldson is hit. He raises his hands high, places them on his head as if to say “Oh no! Kelvin, you idiot, how could you miss so badly!” A split second before Donaldson was hit, you can hear Perez shout something because he knows this was a pitch that got away and is about to make contact with Donaldson’s head. It’s just unfortunate that every time a Blue Jay player is hit by a Royals pitcher, the batter far too often happens to be Toronto’s best player.
Some people have been calling for retribution. The thing is, had Donaldson been hit on purpose, I agree, retribution of some sort would be necessary. But because what happened between Herrera and Donaldson was an accident, Toronto needs to just put this behind them and continue with their push for the playoffs. The Blue Jays have proven to be above that style of baseball anyway, and not unless they’re provoked (like what happened last season with the Royals, or earlier this year against the Rangers) does Toronto resort to throwing at an opposing player. That brand of slimy baseball is reserved for the likes of Ned Yost and Jeff Banister. John Gibbons has proven during his nine years managing the Blue Jays to be above that sort of thing. If Toronto wants to get it’s revenge, why not do so in the most satisfying way possible, and that’s to just beat these so-called tough guy teams on the scoreboard.