What a division the National League Central is.
The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, currently two of the top teams in the National League, kicked off a three-game series on Monday night. It was a series that had no love-lost, and where tensions began to rise.
In the seventh inning, umpire Laz Diaz issued warnings to both dugouts, as by that point, three batters had been hit by a pitch during a game. To start the sixth inning, Cubs starter Jason Hammel hit Starling Marte, and Cubs infielder Ben Zobrist was hit by a pitch from reliever Kyle Lobstein to start the seventh inning.
But hit batters aside, thanks to a four-run fifth inning, Chicago would be able to pull away from the Pirates, in a 7-2 victory.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon believed it was all in good fun.
Um, maybe poor word choice?
“It’s always fun to vent, isn’t it?” he said. “We all vent. It’s the worst possible thing you can do for your health long-term is to hold that stuff in. So I had to get that out.”
Said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle: “I think it’s just a reaction. It’s just guys being guys.”
This has become an intense rivalry over the years, especially now that both teams possess really young talent that has kept them in the playoff hunt over the past couple of seasons.