By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The scouting report for Cubs right-hander John Lackey on Tuesday was pretty clear — pitch the White Sox sluggers inside and work aggressively.
With that came a feat rare in baseball, with Lackey hitting four White Sox batters with a pitch. He twice connected with Jose Abreu — the second incident in the fifth inning drawing a long staredown from Abreu and forcing home plate umpire Lance Barksdale to step in front of Abreu. Lackey then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada later in the inning, forcing the bases loaded with hit batsmen before he got out of trouble.
“You look at numbers, it’s a pretty extreme-swinging team,” Lackey said after the Cubs’ 7-2 win at Wrigley Field in which he went five-plus innings, allowing two runs, both earned. “You got to go to some extreme zones. I’m obviously not trying to hit anybody; I’m just trying to get the ball in deep on a couple guys.
“(Davidson), I got him; he swung at that pitch twice in two of his previous at-bats. And then Moncada, the pitch wasn’t much different than the ball hit to second base earlier on in the game.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning, White Sox reliever Chris Beck threw his first pitch inside on Cubs outfielder Ian Happ and then hit him with the second pitch. Barksdale then issued warnings to both teams. No more beanballs followed. The game was only affected by the inside part of the plate being taken away to an extent.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was pleased with how Barksdale handled the situation, which saw zero ejections amid the drama and allowed the game to continue on without incident.
“None of it was intentional,” Maddon said of Lackey’s hit by pitches. “You’re not going to load the bases up. And then, of course, their retribution was obvious. I had no argument. And Lance’s thought there was the fact that he did not throw at his head, which I agree with. So, we just kept playing. I thought that was rather good.”
The 38-year-old Lackey is known for his fiery demeanor on the mound, often throwing inside to gain an edge in certain situations. He frequently is demonstrative at umpires or even himself during the ballgame.
As for the retaliation from the White Sox’s side, Lackey had zero issue.
“If I’m pitching on the other side,” Lackey said, “I’m probably hitting somebody, for sure.”