Just two batters in, Wednesday night’s game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves took a turn nobody saw coming. Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez homered off Braves starter Paul Maholm and stood and admired his shot a bit too long. Looking to get back at Maholm for what he felt was an intentional plunking back in June, Gomez said a few words to the left-hander as he walked toward first base.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman started arguing with Gomez as he rounded the bases while catcher Brian McCann blocked Gomez’s path to home plate, causing both benches and bullpens to clear. While cooler heads eventually prevailed in Milwaukee’s 4-0 victory, Gomez and Freeman were ejected from the game.
“I did a little bit more (than he should have), and I apologize for this,” Gomez said. “But if you see the replay (from June), they hit me for no reason, and I tried to get it back today. It’s the only opportunity that I have, and that’s what I did. It’s nothing against the organization, for the Braves. I respect everyone. I would do the same thing if I’m on the other side if a guy did like I did today. Defend my teammate.
“But they are not in my head and on my side — they hit me for no reason. If I do something to get hit, I put my head down and go to first. But I didn’t deserve to get hit by a pitch last time, [so] that’s what I did today. I feel bad for all that happened today, because they’re in a situation, they’re going to the playoffs, and I don’t want anybody to get injured from my team or from their team.”
While Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Maholm has hit his center fielder a couple of times in the past, Gomez clearly remembers the last one from June 23. Back then he insisted he was hit on purpose and was adamant about it again Wednesday.
“You can watch the replay and you get answers,” Gomez said. “I know. I’ve been in the league seven years, and I know when I get hit on purpose and when not. I get hit many times, and I put my head down, I make no controversy for my hit by pitch. I always, in seven years, put my head down and walk to first, and nobody can say nothing about that. But today, I feel like I had to take it back, and that’s what I did.
“The last one is what I remember. This is what made me limp for two weeks because they hit me right on the bone on my knee and I was limping for two weeks. That’s not fun.”
Roenicke had already had a conversation with Gomez before he met with the media, letting him know that his actions weren’t acceptable, but also acknowledged he wasn’t the only one at fault for the situation.
“Just the whole thing,” Roenicke said of what he discussed with Gomez. “Great, he hit a home run off of him but get around the line. But it’s not all Gomey’s fault. Somebody starts yelling at you, and he’s hot tempered, and then you get everybody yelling at him the whole way and a guy is standing in front of home plate, so he’s not the only one that’s at blame here.”
Gomez said he wasn’t surprised to see McCann waiting for him when he rounded third base and holds nothing against the veteran catcher for standing up for his teammates.
“If I’m the catcher, I do the same thing,” Gomez said. ” … I respect McCann, all he’s played, and I’m apologizing to his manager, the organization. I know it didn’t have to be that far, but, you know, the adrenaline, the emotions take you more than you expect. I didn’t expect to hit a home run and talk all the way around the bases, but the reason that I talked is that they talked to me [first] and I responded. If nobody talked to me, I’m [circling] the bases like I normally do. Two nights ago, I hit a home run and I put my head down and run the bases like nothing happened. Today, I took the pain back, and that’s what happened.
“I didn’t say anything bad. I just said, ‘You hit me, I hit you. Now we’re even.’ That’s all I said. I didn’t disrespect anybody. The only bad words that came to my mouth were when I’m standing at home plate and McCann dropped them on me. I said, ‘If you say that to me, I can say that to you. We’re all men.’ It’s nothing personal against them. Next time we play, I think it’s going to be over.
“It’s not good for the game, but it happened and you can’t control it.”
From the Braves side of things, manager Fredi Gonzalez reacted with strong words following the game about how Gomez handled himself after hitting the home run.
“It was a weird set of circumstances,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my baseball career, whether in the major leagues, minor league or Little League. … I think there were a lot of guys on both teams that were surprised how it went down. There is some history there. I think by you just hitting a home run, you make a statement. But the way you behave around the bases I think was embarrassing for a professional baseball player to handle himself that way.
“I think any baseball person — whether you are in the stands, watching the game in the dugout or watching the replay on TV — would be astonished what went around the bases.”
Maholm was not expecting any carry over from when he hit Gomez in June and was astonished with what happened after he gave up the home run.
“He hit a homer,” Maholm said. “I threw a bad pitch and he decided to act like that. … I guess every guy that hits him he’s going to decide to act like that. I’ve hit plenty of guys. I’ve given up homers. He’s not the first, he’s not the last. But I’m probably going to say he’s the last guy that acts like that when he hits a homer.”
After the game, Gomez also took to Twitter to post an apology. In five separate Tweets, he wrote:
“I would like to apologize first to the fans, MLB, my teammates and the Brewers organization as well as the Braves organization.
“The way I carried myself on the field is unacceptable, I should have done better to control myself and set a good example.
“In the heat of the moment I let my emotions get the best of me. As a professional athlete I have to respect the game.
“I should have not let the situation escalate. I would like to put this behind and do what I love, and that is play baseball at 110%.
“Again my apologies to everyone that I may have offended I truly regret it. Thank you and have a good night God Bless. #CG27”
While it is still too early to know if Gomez will be suspended for his actions, the Brewers did lose a key contributor as a direct result of the skirmish. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez strained his left knee — the same knee that’s caused him problems all season — and will likely miss the remaining four games of the season.
The injury is just another blow in what has been a very frustrating season for Ramirez.
“When you have that many guys pushing and shoving and whatever else, somebody is usually going to get hurt,” Roenicke said.
FOX Sports South’s Zach Dillard contributed to this report