For the second time in as many series, both benches were warned Saturday after each side hit a batter.
Some Pirates thought Cubs starter Jake Arrieta's fourth-inning pitch, which hit Jung Ho Kang, was intentional, though the Cubs vehemently denied it. Both sides agreed that Pirates starter Jeff Locke's sixth-inning fastball, which nicked catcher Miguel Montero, wasn't intentional. But at that point, both benches were warned.
"Anytime somebody like Arrieta hits somebody, you've got to assume automatically that one didn't just get away," Locke said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after the Cubs' 8-2 win. "When he misses like that, maybe you raise an eyebrow or something. Jung Ho is as talented as anybody. You want to make good pitches to him, too, so maybe you get away from going in. ... I don't know what happened on the pitch. It got him pretty plush, though."
Montero, who was catching Arrieta on Saturday, had issues with that assertion.
"That's really stupid," he said when informed of what Locke said. "Seriously? That's stupid to say. He didn't want to hit him. I guarantee you that he doesn't want to hit him. He was a little wild in that inning. He was hit a few times and was a little wild."
Arrieta's only rough inning came in the fourth, when the Pirates scored both their runs on three hits. Kang was hit one pitch after Arrieta threw a wild one that allowed a runner to move to third base. The idea that the Cubs would allow another base runner on purpose when already down 2-0 didn't register with the home team.
"Obviously, Jake was going through some command issues," Maddon said. "He hit Kang and that was unfortunate. I don't think the guy hit Miggy at all. He threw a lot of balls to that side of the plate."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle wasn't sure what was purposeful and what wasn't.
"I'm not good on judging intent," Hurdle said. "You (the media) can judge intent."
Locke hit Montero two innings later and was subsequently pulled from the game. That's when the warnings came from home plate umpire Brian Knight.
"I don't think he was trying to hit me, either," Montero said. "I'm 100 percent sure on that."
In the fifth inning, Arrieta walked Locke on four pitches.
"I really don't think that Jake was pitching around Locke," Maddon said before Sunday's game. "My point is, it can happen at any time, that a really exceptional pitcher can lose command of his pitches. That's how I would answer Mr. Locke. I really believe that Jake was not trying to throw four consecutive balls to him when he was hitting. I don't think he was intimidated by Mr. Locke being at the plate and was really trying to throw a strike."
Maddon joked that the Pirates are giving Arrieta too much credit for being perfect.
"He's definitely has a cyborg look about him, no question," Maddon said. "When you watch him out there, I could definitely see Arnold Schwarzenegger at his best out there just going through this pitching delivery motion and throwing pitches exactly where he wants all the time. But I think even Arnold messed up a couple of times as the Terminator.
"Listen, he's not perfect by any means. The thing I find interesting is hitters get hit by pitches all the time. It's a part of the game and I would say 99.9 percent of the time it's unintentional and then when somebody wants to bring it to the forefront, that's their right to do that, but believe me ... I think Jake actually said it, you'll know when he's wanting to hit someone."
The incidents Saturday, and the rhetoric after the game, added to the bad blood brewing between the teams. Last year's wild-card game featured several hit batsmen, including Arrieta. It was then that the benches cleared, and Sean Rodriguez of the Pirates was eventually kicked out of the game.
Ten days ago in Pittsburgh, the two teams also were warned in a game with Arrieta on the mound after Pirates pitcher Kyle Lobstein hit Ben Zobrist with a pitch. Maddon yelled out at Lobstein, after which Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli also joined the fray. The Cubs are 5-0 against the Pirates so far this season, outscoring them 37-11 in the process.
"After that amount of games, that is surprising, but every game is a different story," Arrieta said of that run differential. "We've fared well against them so far. We know the quality over there. That hasn't changed."
As for pitchers hitting batters, Maddon said he isn't interested in starting a season-long brawl over it.
"The only people that are going to read into that is someone that wants to," he said. "Why would we want to hit anyone based on what happened last year? There are no dots to connect there."