The Cubs are coming after the Cardinals, not only by saying they haven’t given up running them down despite a sizable gap behind the NL Central’s first-place team but also with an onslaught of angry words from manager Joe Maddon, who took St. Louis to task for hitting Anthony Rizzo twice during the Cubs’ 8-3 victory Friday at Wrigley Field.
Using terms such as “vigilante group” and a “Tony Soprano hit” to describe the Cardinals hitting Rizzo the second time – in the Cubs’ view retaliation for Cardinals pinch-hitter Matt Holliday getting hit in the back of the helmet with a Dan Haren fastball – Maddon went on the attack after the win, which brought the charging Cubs to within six games of St. Louis with 15 to play.
“I’m really disappointed with what the Cardinals did right there, absolutely,’’ Maddon said. “We did not hit their guy on purpose at all, that was an absolute mistake. There is no malicious intent on Dan Haren’s part. None. So to become this vigilante group that all of sudden wants to get their own pound of flesh is absolutely insane, ridiculous and wrong. We don’t start stuff but we stop stuff.’’
Here’s the backdrop:
Cubs fourth: With the Cubs leading 3-2, Rizzo is hit on the arm by a Tyler Lyons pitch.
Cardinals fifth: With one out and a runner on second, Haren hits Holliday in the helmet. Holliday is replaced by a pinch runner but is OK. Umpire Dan Bellino warns both dugouts.
Cubs seventh: With two out and nobody on and the Cubs leading 8-3 behind Starlin Castro’s pair of homers and career-high six RBI, Belisle throws behind Rizzo with a low fastball and grazes the back of his leg. Rizzo takes a couple steps toward the mound but takes his base. Belisle and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny are ejected.
“I can’t control that,” Belisle said. “Obviously there was a warning, but I had to try to pitch in, so what can you do?”
Asked if Belisle’s pitch might have been unintentional, Maddon said, “Of course not.’’
“I don’t want to hear about pitching inside, I don’t want to hear about any of that crap. The pitch Danny hit their guy with was an absolute mistake and … it was awful. We all hated it in the dugout.’’
Maddon also said if the Cardinals, because of a so-called book of baseball etiquette, took issue with the Cubs running in the eighth inning with a five-run lead, too bad. A six-run lead prevents Hector Rondon from having to warm up, Maddon said.
“I never [read] the particular book the Cardinals wrote back in the day,’’ Maddon said.
“I have no issue with the Cardinals except that I loved them as a kid growing up. Right now that really showed me a lot today in a negative way. I don’t know who put out the hit—I don’t know if Tony Soprano is in the dugout, I didn’t see him in there. But we’re not going to put up with that from them or anyone else.”
Haren, who was drafted by the Cardinals and played his first two seasons there in 2003 and ‘04, said he apologized to Rizzo after he hit Holliday because he knew the Cardinals would retaliate. He said he was thankful they didn’t throw at Rizzo’s head.
“I think [retaliation] was expected,’’ Haren said. “Two outs and nobody on.
“Being there before, they always police things like that.
“They’re yelling and screaming. But I wasn’t trying to do it on purpose, obviously. I’ve faced Holliday a million times. Going inside on him is one of the only places I can go. I just lost it. I hope they know it wasn’t on purpose.’’
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