ANAHEIM -- Jake Marisnick didn’t let loud jeers from the Angel Stadium crowd stop him from having a productive night at the plate on Tuesday. The possibility of a retaliatory plunking didn’t hold him back, either.
Both came in the Astros’ 7-2 loss to the Angels. With choruses of boos raining down on him all four times he stepped to the plate, Marisnick went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and a stolen base, while also reaching on a sixth-inning pitch that hit him high around his left shoulder.
“This was not a surprise,” manager AJ Hinch said in a tense postgame scrum. “I wish they would’ve handled it better. [The pitch] was too high. If they’re gonna hit guys, they need to hit guys the right way.”
The reason it wasn’t a surprise to Hinch is because nine days earlier, Marisnick collided with Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy at the plate in Houston, leaving Lucroy with a concussion and a broken nose. He had surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss three weeks.
Although Marisnick has expressed remorse for the incident, insisted that he tried his best to avoid the collision and has since reached out to Lucroy to apologize, that wasn’t sufficient for Angels fans or MLB, which handed him a two-game suspension he is now appealing. One pitch from the Angels made them seem even less forgiving.
Once starter Andrew Heaney -- a friend and former teammate of Marisnick’s from the pair’s time in the Marlins’ organization -- was out of the game, Noe Ramirez drilled the Astros center fielder the first time they faced each other.
“There’s unwritten rules in baseball, and I think, as players, we respect them,” Marisnick said. “I think that’s a question for [Ramirez], if it was intentional or not. I’m not the one throwing the baseball.”
Ramirez denied hitting Marisnick intentionally.
“I was just trying to sneak a fastball by him,” said Ramirez. “I threw two sliders away. I think the scouting report on me is I might sneak a fastball in there after a couple offspeed pitches. I tried to sneak one by him in, and it just got away from me.
“They’re a good team so I wasn’t trying to give them any sort of chance. They get a baserunner on, they’re a pretty good team. They get a rally going pretty good. That’s the last thing I was trying to do.”
Home-plate umpire Stu Scheurwater issued warnings to both teams, and Marisnick took his base without incident. But jawing from the Astros’ dugout set off Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, resulting in the emptying of both benches and bullpens, though no physical altercations or ejections occurred. Marisnick, who grew up an Angels fan in nearby Riverside, was even seen trying to play peacemaker, urging his teammates to return to the dugout.
What was said from the Astros’ dugout that prompted Pujols to react?
“I honestly didn’t really hear, I just saw the kind of situation happening,” said Marisnick. “I mean, there’s no place for anything like that on a baseball field. I’m doing my best just to kind of calm down the situation.”
Hinch thought his center fielder handled everything as well as could reasonably be expected.
“[Marisnick was] great,” said Hinch. “I mean, the fans were brutal over the dugout. He was certainly the villain tonight. I think he handled himself well -- he was actually a guy who was trying to calm the issue down whenever there was a little bit of chirping.”
It’s unclear whether this will be the end of the situation. As far as the Astros see it, Marisnick was being punished unfairly for an act that was not intentional.
“Either the players govern the players on the field, like it’s always been, or we legislate it to where none of this crap happens,” said Hinch. “But they got a free shot out of him with no warning, no ejection. We’ll see if there’s discipline. And without discipline, there’s not going to be any issue doing it the next time.
“If retaliations are in, cool. We’re well aware.”