The storied rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees gained a new chapter Wednesday night. The home-plate umpire tossed Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda out of the game for employing a banned substance.
Pineda, after experiencing control issues in the first inning, returned in the second with a brown substance, most likely pine tar, on his neck. John Farrell, a former big-league pitcher and pitching coach, noticed. The action by the umpires came at the request of the Red Sox manager. David Phelps replaced Pineda on the mound.
Although rules prohibit applying foreign substances like pine tar to the ball, pitchers often use the sticky material to better grip the ball on cold nights. The temperature at Fenway Park during the game dipped from the low fifties into the forties. Because Pineda offended the rules more than baseball custom, expect gamesmanship to escalate from Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
The ejection comes on the heels of the controversy over a brownish substance on Pineda’s throwing hand the last time he pitched against the Red Sox. Cameras, but not Sox manager Farrell, caught glimpses of the sticky matter. “I don’t use pine tar,” Pineda said after the win, his first since 2011. “It’s dirt. I’m sweating on my hand too much in between innings.”
Whereas the alleged pine tar during the April 10 game appeared on Pineda’s hand, it appeared on his neck on Wednesday night. Plate umpire Gerry Davis ran his fingers over Pineda’s neck and immediately ejected him with one out in the bottom of the second. Worse still for the Yankees, struggling to keep a rotation together, is that the ejection will likely be followed by a suspension.
The Red Sox led 2-0 at the time of the ejection. They increased their lead to 4-0 in the inning following Pineda’s abrupt departure.
Somewhere, George Brett smiles.