Things got pretty chippy between the Orioles and the Red Sox over the weekend. Sure, it was a one-sided series on the scoreboard, with the Red Sox sweeping all four games, but the Orioles showed some character in a bench-clearing brawl Friday and during an ejection-filled loss Sunday in the last game before the All-Star break.
Friday's fisticuffs were all over the highlights, with Orioles closer Kevin Gregg giving Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz an earful after he got Ortiz to fly out late in the game. Ortiz had been complaining about Gregg pitching him inside, and after Gregg gestured toward him as he started to run out his fly ball, Ortiz charged the mound and the benches cleared. The Gregg-Ortiz brouhaha had about as much fist-on-face contact as one of those choreographed WWE bouts. All that was missing was a folding chair and a couple pairs of tights.
"This is a team sport. I take offense to every run scored off every one of our pitchers. I take offense to every one of our hitters that's hit every time out there. We are a family," Gregg said after Friday's 10-3 loss to the Red Sox. "We spend more time with these 25 guys than I do with my own family, and I take it personal. And so, to be able to go out there, you get tired of getting your butt kicked every night when you come in here. I'm going to stick up for what ours and try to get the plate back. I think you showed them that we are not backing down."
Then in Sunday's series finale, Orioles reliever Michael Gonzalez sent another message to Ortiz, throwing a fastball behind the slugger and for that he earned himself an early trip to the showers. Considering his inaccuracy over the past season and a half, it's hard to say for sure that Gonzalez intended to buzz Ortiz with that pitch, but he won points with Orioles fans -- well, the couple hundred or so who actually tuned in for Sunday's game.
On our Orioles Insider blog, beat reporter Jeff Zrebiec raised an interesting question in his Monday morning notes post.
"I do find it a little ironic that the two Orioles being lauded for sticking up for their teammates and showing some fight after Kevin Gregg and Michael Gonzalez, who are probably Public Enemy 1 and 2 among Oriole fans," Zrebiec wrote. "I wonder if their actions over the weekend will change any opinions."
I would argue that Gonzalez is actually Public Enemy 1, but it's a good point that Zrebiec makes. These two relievers, with their big contracts and high WHIP totals, have often been Birdland punching bags. Heck, Gonzalez was booed during his home debut last season -- and that was before he even threw a pitch.
Maybe you're still not a fan of either of these guys, but do you think a little more highly of them after their actions this weekend?
Your turn: Has your opinion of Gregg or Gonzalez changed?