NEW YORK -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi felt Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Steve Pearce’s slide into third base that caused Kelly Johnson to throw errantly to first in the eighth inning was a “malicious play.”
With runners on first and second and no outs in the eighth, Orioles left fielder Nelson Cruz hit a grounder to third. Johnson fielded the ball cleanly and stepped on the bag for the force, but Pearce slid hard into the third baseman, causing Johnson’s throw to sail high and into the stands.
After a long conversation, the umpires, despite protest from Girardi that their should’ve been interference, ruled the play a fielder’s choice, with Cruz advancing to second and center fielder Adam Johnson, who was on first, advancing to third. Yankees reliever Adam Warren then proceeded to intentionally walk first baseman Chris Davis, and the next batter, shortstop J.J. Hardy, cleared the bases with a double to right-center field, giving the Orioles a 6-0 lead.
“[Third base umpire Tom Hallion] thought [Pearce] could still touch the bag [on the slide]. You have to make an attempt for the bag, and there was no attempt for the bag,” Girardi said following New York’s 8-0 loss to Baltimore on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. “That was pretty malicious. I’m all for playing hard, I don’t have a problem with playing hard, I took guys out, but that’s a pretty dangerous one because you’re going after someone on the slide, and that’s how you hurt knees, but I don’t think he made any attempt for the bag.”
The play is not reviewable. Girardi later hedged, but still called the play “dangerous” and “violent.”
Johnson, who banged up his ankle on the play, would not go as far as to call Pierce’s slide malicious.
“He said kinda, ‘My bad.’ I said, ‘You got away with one.’ That was it,” Johnson said.
Said Pearce: “There was nothing malicious about it. I’m just trying to play the game. If he feels that way, I’m sorry, but I was not trying to hurt the guy. I was just trying to breakup the double-play.”