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DETROIT -- Did he or didn't he? The Orioles lost 8-4 to the Tigers on Monday night at Comerica Park for their seventh loss in eight games, but the only discussion afterwards revolved around a hit batsmen and a near hit batsmen.
Daniel Cabrera hit Gary Sheffield with a pitch in the back in the third inning, and Jeremy Bonderman buzzed Miguel Tejada on an inside pitch in the fifth. Bonderman didn't hit Tejada, but the shortstop thought it was retaliation for the Sheffield beaning, as he pointed his bat towards Bonderman. Both benches and bullpens cleared out onto the field. No punches were thrown, and no ejections were made, but both teams clearly thought both pitches were intentional after the game.
Tough to say if Cabrera's pitch was intentional -- he declined to speak with reporters after the game -- but he did struggle with his control the whole game. He walked six and threw two wild pitches in five innings.
"I thought Daniel was [having a] hard enough time trying to find the zone," manager Sam Perlozzo said to a pool reporter. "So obviously, I think they thought they did that on purpose."
Bonderman threw a low fastball on the first pitch to Tejada with two outs in the fifth, but Tejada managed to jump out of the way. It still angered Tejada, as he got into an argument with catcher Ivan Rodriguez before managers and players from both teams emptied out onto the field.
Tejada also declined to speak with the general media, although he did speak with newspaper writers from the Baltimore area.
"That's not what I'm all about," Tejada said.
Sheffield said Tejada's reaction initiated the response from both teams.
"I got drilled. Nobody said a word. Bonderman threw at Tejada's foot and he took offense to it," Sheffield said. "We didn't initiate anything. He pointed the bat at our pitcher. We have to protect our players."
Sheffield and Cabrera were seen arguing during the incident, as reserve player Freddie Bynum restrained Cabrera towards the Orioles dugout.
Sheffield got his revenge in the bottom half of the fifth, as he homered into the left-field seats in what would be the final inning for Cabrera. Sheffield took his time staring at the ball as it went into the seats, and appeared to look in the direction of the Orioles dugout. Cabrera then took his turn staring at Sheffield, as he watched him the entire time he rounded the bases. Three umpires got in the general vicinity of Cabrera to prevent any further escalation.
"I have the utmost respect for Sheffield, I've been watching him for years and he's just a pro," Perlozzo said. "If I had to pick somebody, he wouldn't be my guy [to make angry]."
Cabrera threw 108 pitches, and forced the Orioles to use their bullpen earlier than they had liked. Jaret Wright threw just three innings the previous game, and likely won't be back for some time. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder problems before Monday's game.
"Our bullpen just can't cover all those innings," Perlozzo said. "We always end up an inning short. We just gotta get [the starters] to relax a little bit.
Relax. Something that's hard for the Orioles to do when they see their star player upset.
"You don't like to see that type of thing," Jay Gibbons said. "But we're gonna support Miggy."
So was either pitch intentional? Neither team knows for sure, but there will surely be added emotions in Tuesday's game between two non-division teams that won't meet again after Wednesday's series finale.
"I'm not trying to start anything with anybody. This game is hard enough without emotions getting involved," Bonderman said. "It's just an unfortunate situation. They're a great team. I know a lot of the guys on that team."