Ian Kinsler broke up a tight 2-1 game in the eighth inning with a two-run homer to left field. Kinsler took his time admiring the homer and then rounded the bases in 24 seconds, not a stroll but not a sprint either.
We’ll never know for sure, but you have to think Orioles pitcher Bud Norris, who had pitched a gem up to that point, didn’t like Kinsler’s home run trot.
It could be a coincidence, but two pitches later, Norris hit Torii Hunter with a 94-mph fastball.
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"I don’t know. We don’t know that," Hunter said after the game when asked if he thought Kinsler's home run trot caused Norris to hit him with the pitch. "You’ve got to ask him. I don’t know nothing with what was going on with him. I took the beat down. I got punched and you can’t punch back."
No punches were thrown, and home plate umpire James Hoye ejected Norris, who walked into the Orioles dugout. Again, words were exchanged with Hunter, and the Tigers veteran was caught by MASN cameras slowly screaming to the Orioles’ dugout -- presumably at Norris, “I will whoop your (butt).”
There was some more jawing, but nothing escalated.
After the game, Norris said he thought Hoye ejected him quickly.
"Absolutely. It came out pretty quick," Norris said about the ejection. "I didn't understand why. Still late in the game, I had been pitching both sides of the plate. Hadn’t hit anybody earlier in the game. Had only had a couple walks.
Hunter apparently thought he was paying for Kinsler’s homer and said something to Norris, who jawed back. Both are, let’s just say, pretty good talkers.
"I respect Torii Hunter and everything he’s done, but in the same token, I’m out there trying to do my job late in the game," Norris said. "I threw a first-pitch slider and he took a really aggressive hack on it, and I thought he was really on my slider. I threw a four-seam fastball in, and it kind of got going on me."
Norris also exchanged words with Boston Red Sox catcher David Ross in an April game at Fenway Park while pitching him inside on a potential sacrifice bunt. The Pittsburgh Pirates' Neil Walker also yelled at Norris after being hit in a Game 1 of the May 1 doubleheader.
As the volume increased Monday between Norris and Hunter, the dugouts emptied – Miguel Cabrera charged out from the on-deck circle – and then the relievers came streaming out of both bullpens.
Norris' ejection, however, did pave the way for Preston Guilmet to replace Norris and make his Orioles debut.
When asked whether there would be any carryover as the two teams continue their three-game series Tuesday at Camden Yards, Hunter said: "The game polices itself. We’re just going to keep playing the game, doing what we have to do and see what happens."