Cincinnati Reds: Intent is irrelevant when playing the Pirates

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 29: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after being hit by a pitch from Clay Holmes #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park on May 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Pirates won 7-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 29: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after being hit by a pitch from Clay Holmes #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park on May 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Pirates won 7-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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There was yet another questionable incident between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. While intent is hard to prove, it’s irrelevant at this point.

It happened again. Many fans were wondering what might happen during this four-game series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. While intent is difficult to prove, it’s become irrelevant when these two teams are in opposing dugouts.

During the bottom of the eighth inning with the Pirates up 7-0 on the Reds, reliever Clay Holmes‘ first pitch came up and in on Eugenio Suárez, striking him on the top of the left hand. Suárez had to exit the game, but not before he had words with Holmes. Suárez revealed later that he asked Holmes if that pitch was on purpose.

Reds’ manager David Bell obviously thought it was, as a conversation with the home plate umpire soon became heated and eventually resulted in Bell getting tossed. After the game, Bell told reporters that he was doing what he could to protect his players. Here’s Bell’s comments via Reds.com:

"“Clearly, we’re not going to get protected, so we have to do whatever we can. We have to take matters into our own hands. It’s unfortunate. Our players aren’t going to get protected. It’s been made clear. We know that team will intentionally throw at people. What are you supposed to think?”"

The benches clearing melee that took place in Pittsburgh earlier this season is proof of Bell’s point. Following a home run by Derek Dietrich that sailed out of PNC Park, pitcher Chris Archer purposefully threw a fastball behind Dietrich during the slugger’s next at-bat. The benches cleared and eventually several suspensions were handed down from Major League Baseball.

The biggest question surrounding yesterday’s incident was intent. Of course the fanbase of the Cincinnati Reds is going to think that Geno was drilled on purpose. By contrast, Pirates’ fans think that notion is ludicrous.

If there was any malicious intent on the part of the Pirates, a lot of fans on both sides thought that Derek Dietrich would be the target given that he’s the player that has drawn the ire of the Pittsburgh fanbase and media. However, given the circumstances, if Dietrich would’ve received the same fastball up and in that Suárez did, I think you would’ve seen Holmes ejected.

The Athletic had an interesting conversation with Cincinnati Reds’ reliever Jared Hughes who, at one time, pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hughes seemed to agree with his manager that the Pirates have shown a tendency to throw at opposing batters on purpose.

So much of this situation comes down to intent and that’s hard to prove. No one except for Clay Holmes, and perhaps Clint Hurdle, knows whether or not yesterday’s high and tight pitch that clipped Geno’s hand was purposeful or not.

The good news for Reds’ fans is that Eugenio Suárez appears fine. All the tests were negative and the Reds’ third baseman is hopeful to be back in the lineup for Friday’s contest against the Washington Nationals. That’s a big relief after Geno missed about three weeks last season with a broken thumb after a pitch from Jameson Taillon plunked Suárez on his right hand.

Next. Dietrich needs your help to make the ASG

So what’s next for this rivalry? Well, we’ll have to wait until the last week of July to find out. The Pittsburgh Pirates return to Great American Ball Park in about two months for a three-game series with Cincinnati Reds. Regardless of either team’s position in the standings at that point in the season, every player will be on high alert.