A beanball to Torii Hunter prompted the benches to clear in Monday's series opener between the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles, though cooler heads ultimately prevailed.
Whether that remains the case for the rest of the series is yet to be seen.
However, any lingering resentment from Hunter and company might be taken out Tuesday night on scheduled starter Ubaldo Jimenez given his struggles both against the Tigers and in Baltimore.
After taking a 4-1 win Monday, the Tigers (22-12) will be aiming for a seventh straight road victory for the first time since June 17-24, 2007. Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer for insurance in the eighth inning, but the evening's biggest excitement came moments later.
Baltimore starter Bud Norris plunked Hunter in the ribs with his second pitch of the following at-bat, inciting some words from Hunter. Both dugouts emptied as Hunter approached the mound, but the scene calmed down quickly. Norris was ejected, shouting at Hunter on his way out.
Norris denied throwing at him intentionally.
"What do you think? I mean the guy had great control," Hunter said. "So what, he all of a sudden lost it?"
Hunter was 0 for 3 to end a 12-game hitting streak against the Orioles, though he's had plenty of success against Jimenez, going 7 for 18. Miguel Cabrera, who has 11 RBIs in his last seven games, has hit safely in 24 of his last 25 matchups with Baltimore with 12 homers and 26 RBIs. He's also 14 for 41 against Jimenez with eight walks.
Jimenez (2-4, 4.73 ERA) has won two in a row, allowing just a run over 12 2-3 innings at Minnesota and Tampa Bay. However, he's struggled at Camden Yards, compiling a 6.75 ERA in losing three outings there compared to a 3.18 mark on the road.
Jimenez has also only pitched past the sixth inning twice this season. Norris went 7 2-3 innings Monday, marking the third time in four games an Orioles starter threw at least seven. Prior to that, Baltimore (20-16) had gotten fewer than six innings from its starters in four of five, including Jimenez's outing against the Rays on Thursday.
The right-hander is 1-4 with a 6.25 ERA over his last six starts versus Detroit, failing to make it past the fourth inning in the last two.
"As a starting pitcher, we want to go deep," Jimenez told the team's website. "We are not doing it right now, but hopefully we will find a way to turn it around because we are putting a lot of it in their (the bullpen's) arms right now."
He'll try to pick up a scuffling Baltimore offense, which is 11 for 60 (.183) with runners in scoring position over the last nine games. The Orioles had previously been hitting a major league-best .305 in those situations.
Nick Markakis was 0 for 4 Monday to end what was the majors' longest active hitting streak at 18 games. Chris Davis was also hitless in four at_bats in his second game since returning from the disabled list.
They'll dig in against left-hander Drew Smyly (2-2, 2.96). Smyly had given up only a walk and an infield single in the first 4 1-3 innings Thursday against Houston before surrendering three runs in the fifth in a 6-2 loss.
Smyly threw three scoreless innings of relief and earned the win in a 10-4 victory over Baltimore on April 4.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved