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Padres, D-backs get chippy over inside pitches

@AJCassavell
April 14, 2019

PHOENIX -- With two outs and the bases empty in the ninth inning on Sunday, D-backs closer Greg Holland threw a fastball behind Padres catcher Francisco Mejía. Then he did it again. Mejia struck out four pitches later to cap an 8-4 D-backs victory. But the end of the ballgame

PHOENIX -- With two outs and the bases empty in the ninth inning on Sunday, D-backs closer Greg Holland threw a fastball behind Padres catcher Francisco Mejía.

Then he did it again.

Mejia struck out four pitches later to cap an 8-4 D-backs victory. But the end of the ballgame -- which was relatively tame, otherwise -- might not have marked the end of those proceedings.

Holland pleaded innocent afterward, but Padres skipper Andy Green was having none of it. He felt as though the pitches carried some purpose.

In San Diego's victory on Saturday, Robert Stock came inside on David Peralta before Trey Wingenter plunked Eduardo Escobar in the left kneecap two batters later.

A day later, when Holland came inside on Mejia, the Padres' rookie catcher merely backed away with a knowing shrug. But San Diego's dugout took exception. Green barked loudly at home-plate umpire Mike Winters. Afterward, he voiced his displeasure again.

“The first one? OK, maybe it slips,” Green said. “The second one? We know what's going on there. It's not lost on us at all. If it's lost on them, they're not paying attention."

Holland, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth, threw his first pitch behind Mejia's back. His second was in the dirt, behind Mejia's feet.

"I hadn’t thrown a lot recently," Holland said. "I struggled with my fastball command the other night. ... I understand [how it looks], but I just think when you’ve lost four straight games and you’ve got a chance to win, you’re not trying to hit anybody in the ninth inning. We’re just trying to win a game and turn the page."

The D-backs were none too pleased with Stock and Wingenter on Saturday. Peralta took exception when Stock came inside with ball four. Then, Escobar shouted in Wingenter's direction after he was plunked on the kneecap.

Those pitches, however, came during a one-run game in the seventh inning. Stock's put the go-ahead run aboard. Wingenter's loaded the bases. Both right-handers have dealt with control problems this season, and Stock was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on Sunday for precisely that reason.

Green drew a clear connection between Arizona's reactions on Saturday and its actions on Sunday.

“I don’t think you can toss him for the first one,” Green said. “But when you throw the ball behind his back a second time, it’s a really easy call. For some reason, [umpire] Mike Winters didn’t think it was an easy call. It’s blatantly obvious, as much as they were yelling yesterday.

“Now, we threw balls all over the place yesterday. I understand their frustration. I get that. But you don’t get to take target practice on our guys. That’s what an umpire’s supposed to be doing.”

D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo took a different view. Holland, he said, was merely experiencing some of the same control issues that have plagued the two Padres relievers this season.

"I think they were just some misses, to be honest with you," Lovullo said. "I don’t know exactly what’s going on. I haven’t had a chance to look at the location or talk to anybody, but, look, he got three outs and ended the game. That’s all I’m really concerned about."

San Diego and Arizona next meet on May 20 at Petco Park.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.