Following their walk-off loss to the Toronto Blue Jays late Tuesday night, the Orioles were left to digest a bitter end to their season, but one thing in particular left a sour taste as they prepared to head home to Baltimore.
A raucous sellout crowd of 49,934 filled Rogers Centre, and several Orioles players have said the fans in Toronto are relentless in their heckling of visiting players.
But that reached another level in the seventh inning Tuesday, when a fan in the left-field stands threw a beer can toward left fielder Hyun Soo Kim as he was in the process of catching Melvin Upton Jr.’s fly ball.
The can landed extremely close to Kim, jarring him as he made the catch anyway.
“I was trying to catch the ball and I thought that was actually a ball, so I thought I missed the ball,” Kim said through interpreter Danny Lee. “And then I found out it was a beer can, which was thrown [right at] me. It never happened to me before so it was surprising. I was kind of shocked.”
Center fielder Adam Jones was enraged by the act, yelling and pointing into the left-field stands. Orioles manager Buck Showalter ran into the outfield to talk to umpires to make sure the fan who threw the can was identified and ejected. It’s not clear whether any fan was ejected for the incident.
“Someone threw a beer down at my player,” Jones said. “First and foremost, that was about as pathetic as it gets between the lines. You don’t do that, I don’t care how passionate you are, how you think you’re passionate. You don’t do that. Yell, cuss, scream, we suck, we’re sacks of [crap]. We know, we’re horrible. We get it. We’re the opponent. We completely understand that, but to throw something at a player, that’s just as pathetic as it gets, and I hope they find the guy, and I hope they press charges.
“[Kim’s] not looking. You could hit him in the back of the head; you never know what could happen. That’s a full beer that’s been thrown. … I hope they find the person, and I hope they [prosecute] him.”
The incident revealed how far some fans at Rogers Centre have taken their allegiance, even directing racial and ethnic slurs at players, according to club sources.
“You hear everything,” Jones said. “We can hear everything, man, cussing you, flipping you off. That’s fine, but to go out of character, but to put us in harm’s way, we’re here to play baseball, nothing more, nothing less. Puts us in harm’s way, it’s not part of the game, it’s not part of any sport.”
Asked if he was the target of any slurs, Kim said, “I’m not too sure, probably. But something like today should never happen again. It was the first time for me and hopefully it’s the last time.”
It’s not the first time there’s been an incident involving fans at the Rogers Centre throwing items onto the field, and not the first time against the Orioles.
During a regular-season game in 2013, a beer can was thrown behind Nate McLouth after he made a diving catch in foul ground.
And during the Blue Jays' American League Division Series Game 5 win over the Texas Rangers last season, fans threw water bottles, cans, rally towels and paper containers onto the field after a call was reversed.
“[It’s] disappointing,” Showalter said. “People have a different way of handling their emotions. I don’t like it. Nobody likes it. I’m sure the Toronto Blue Jays don’t like it. It’s tough when you have that many people in the ballpark and one person does something that reflects poorly on all of them. It can happen in any ballpark. I don’t like anything that puts our guys in harm’s way, just like [Toronto manager John Gibbons] wouldn’t at our place.”
“That’s not just part of the sport, man,” Jones said. “Call us what you want. I’ve been hearing that for the past year, but to put us in harm’s way when all we’re doing is focusing on the game, that’s not part of the game. ... Throw an octopus. Throw hats.”