A missed strike-three call turned into a wild scene Friday at Wrigley Field, leaving two key Chicago Cubs players ejected after on-field tirades in the first game of a pivotal series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Starting pitcher John Lackey and catcher Willson Contreras were both tossed after clashing with home-plate umpire Jordan Baker in the fifth inning. Lackey was especially fuming — so mad that he was tossed while trying to cover home plate.
MLB announced Saturday that Contreras was suspended two games for throwing his mask during the blow up. Lackey was fined an undisclosed amount for his role.
It was the top of the fifth in a 1-1 game. Lackey had Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez at the plate with two strikes. He threw a cutter across the middle that looked so much like a strike that Martinez started to walk back to the dugout before the pitch was even called. Surprisingly, Baker called it a ball.
Lackey was mad. The Cubs dugout was mad. Wrigley was mad. Even Lackey’s wife, Kristina, was mad on Twitter (and she showed us a picture of where the pitch was):
Oof. That doesn’t look too much like a ball. Nonetheless, Lackey went back to work and Martinez singled on the next pitch, bringing home the go-ahead run for the Cardinals (the Cubs would later win 8-2 after a seven-run sixth inning). Lackey was running to back-up home plate and was yelling at Baker immediately. Baker didn’t even engage him, just threw him out of the game by calmly waving him away.
Then Contreras got upset and was also ejected. He bounced his facemask off the ground and it hit Baker, which led to his suspension. Contreras is appealing the suspension and will play Saturday.
It was quite a scene and certainly not the way the Cubs wanted to open a weekend series against the Cardinals, who trail them by three games in the NL Central standings.
It probably wasn’t the most ideal moment for Lackey to lose his cool, but you see where that pitch was — can you blame him?
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