Two weeks ago Michael Pineda and the New York Yankees were able to get away with the pitcher using pine tar for a few innings. Despite knowing the attention will be on him, he used some of the substance on his neck, and Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t wait long before bringing it to the umpires attention, tossing Pineda out of the game, while the Red Sox claimed the 5-1 victory in the end.
But the win didn’t seem to be the big news coming out of the win at Fenway. Pineda was pretty much caught doing this during the series in New York, but because he removed it from his hand in time, nothing disciplinary happened during the game. He later said it was a mixture of dirt and sweat turning into mud. This time, there was no escaping the truth and he admitted to using the stuff.
But not for cheating. Oh no. Why did Pineda use it? According to him, he didn’t cheat. He did because it was a cold night and so he’d have better control. Not for cheating, but for the safety of other players. Joe Girardi, who like others in the Yankees clubhouse failed to notice Pineda smearing the stuff on his neck before using it with his pitches, said that he didn’t try to cheat – but only to get himself a competitive edge. Big difference.
Brian Cashman was alerted of the situation while in the stands by someone calling him and telling him that there’s something suspicious going on with Pineda. He was making his way from the stands into the clubhouse, but by the time he got there it was too late, and Pineda was already tossed from the game. Cashman was said to be livid that no one noticed Pineda using the “mystery substance” before the Red Sox and the Umpires did.
Pineda will probably be suspended, although the rule book is slightly gray on the matter. This puts the Yankees pitching situation in something of a bind, as they’ve already lost starter Ivan Nova. Girardi said he expects Pineda to be suspended by MLB, but he’s sure he’ll only learn from his mistakes. It’s interesting to learn after these occasions how pitchers around the league stick together on this subject, even on rival teams, not having much of a problem with their colleagues blatantly cheating, defending them when they get caught.
And the baseball game? The Red Sox were already up 2-0 when Pineda was tossed before the end of the second inning. David Phelps didn’t do much better coming in for him, and neither did the other relievers. The Red Sox enjoyed a very strong performance from John Lackey, pitching for eight innings, allowing seven hits and striking out 11 batters, giving up the only run by the Yankees to a sacrifice fly by Alfonso Soriano, giving the Red Sox bullpen some room to breathe.