It may not have been the stuff of Carlos Zambrano. Or rise to the level of Michael Barrett and A.J. Pierzynski.
But four games into this year’s Cubs-Sox snooze-fest, Pedro Strop finally delivered the kind of emotion this rivalry used to inspire.
The Cubs’ reliever reacted to Sox runner Alexei Ramirez’s insults with back-to-back strikeouts and a few extra fist pumps toward Ramirez on his way off the mound in the eighth inning of the Cubs’ 6-5 victory Friday on the South Side.
“I felt like he was trying to show me up,” said Strop, who momentarily was distracted and irritated by Ramirez gesturing at him dismissively as Strop checked the runner at second with one out.
“He kind of stole my attention a little bit,” Strop said, “when he gave me that ‘no-no-no’ [gesture].”
He ended up walking No. 9 hitter Geo Soto, earning a visit to the mound by catcher Miguel Montero and Chris Bosio.
Strop’s response: back-to-back strikeouts Adam Eaton and Tyler Saladino to end the inning and preserve the slim lead – evoking a quick, spontaneous fist pump, followed by a more targeted pair of air punches in Ramirez’s direction.
“That’s why I gave a little fist pump,” Strop said. “But it’s nothing personal.”
Ramirez: “I don’t know what happened there. I just tried to sign like – it wasn’t trying to disrespect him. It was just like, `We’re OK.’ I was close. I don’t know if he took that in a bad way, probably because of the intensity of the game.”