BOSTON — Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t forget to ask this time around. A little less than two weeks after a mysterious substance on the hand of New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda went unchecked in a dominant win over Boston, he was ejected from Wednesday night’s game against the division rivals after umpires discovered pine tar on his neck.
The Yankees’ official Twitter feed noted that Pineda would be replaced by righty David Phelps.
Pine tar was discovered on Pineda’s neck in the bottom of the second inning, a frame after he gave up two earned runs to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. With two outs and a 1-2 count on Grady Sizemore, Farrell came out of the dugout to alert the umpiring crew of a dark-brown substance on the right side of Pineda’s neck.
MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch added more detail.
As Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted, the crew first examined the ball Pineda was using and then his neck before home-plate umpireGerry Davis sent him to the showers.
After struggling mightily with command and location in the first, Pineda was decidedly better in the bottom half of the second. He forced consecutive fly-outs from Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. before working Sizemore into a deep hole.
Undoubtedly facing a suspension from Major League Baseball, it will be interesting to see if the commissioner’s office takes a harsher look at the events which unfolded earlier this month. In a 4-1 win over the Red Sox on April 10, Pineda pitched six strong innings, striking out seven batters and allowing just one run on four hits.
The story after the game, however, was not about Pineda’s strong performance but instead a foreign substance that showed up on his hand.
The Red Sox were not alerted to the substance in that April 10 game until it was removed from Pineda’s hand, making it impossible for the team to appeal the result or see whether he was cheating. At the time, Pineda claimed he was only using dirt to deal with excess sweat.
“I don’t use pine tar,” Pineda told reporters. “It’s dirt. I’m sweating on my hand too much in between innings.”
Pineda, 25, had been having a sterling season before the controversy. Finally healthy after two years’ worth of injury setbacks, he has a 2-1 record with a 1.83 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Pineda has been one of quite a few bright spots for the 12-8 Yankees, who are trying to make the playoffs after finishing with their lowest winning percentage in two decades in 2013.
It’s ironic that the Red Sox were the ones to call Pineda out for using a foreign substance as two of their own pitchers have had similar accusations hurled at them in the last year. In May of last season, Jack Morris and others accused Clay Buchholz of doctoring the ball.
In the 2013 World Series, Jon Lester seemed to consistently be going to a strangely bright spot in his glove during a masterful Game 1 performance against the St. Louis Cardinals. Neither of their opponents in those instances asked for the pitchers to be examined by the umpires for foreign substances, however.