The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday, in large part due to the solid outing produced by Zach Davies. The right-hander lasted 6.2 innings and allowed just 1 run, good enough to earn his 14th victory of the season. In typical Davies’ fashion, he didn’t register many strikeouts - just 2 on the night - instead relying on weak contact, ground balls, and limiting free passes (he issued 2 of them) while navigating his way through Pittsburgh’s lineup.
The way Zach Davies operates on the mound is almost as if he’s from a different era of America’s pastime. The diminutive hurler struggles to scrape 90 on the radar gun, pitches to contact and lets his defense do a majority of the work. This “old-school” mentality to pitching apparently extends beyond just the stuff he’s working with on the mound.
During the bottom of the 4th inning of yesterday’s contest, Pirate starter Ivan Nova hit Travis Shaw with a first-pitch 92 MPH fastball. Shaw had owned Nova in their prior matchups - after a 2nd inning single, he was 12-for-14 against him lifetime - which Nova was evidently not pleased about. Nova retired the next two batters he faced to send the game to the top of the 5th.
Jordy Mercer lead off the frame for Pittsburgh, and after throwing a first-pitch ball outside, Davies put an 89 MPH fastball into Mercer’s backside. It seemed pretty retaliatory at the time, and Zach essentially admitted as much after the game when he told reporters that he didn’t like how the pitch that hit Shaw was up and in near the letters. He clearly felt compelled to stick up for his teammate with a good ol’ fashioned bean ball.
As Brewers fans, this isn’t something that we’ve seen much of from this club in recent years. Milwaukee seems to rarely get caught up in drama like this and the pitching staff doesn’t often ‘respond’ when someone on the team gets hit by a pitch. Craig Counsell is considered to be a forward-thinking manager and David Stearns is a millenial, and the general view on these types of incidents has seemingly shifted over the years to where most folks seem to dislike and look down on the idea of “bean ball wars.”
Obviously Zach Davies hasn’t gotten caught up in that mindset and still puts credence in what some may view as an archaic practice while, in his mind, defending one of his teammates. A true “throwback” kind of ballplayer, Davies has exuded confidence regarding his own performance as well as the team’s throughout what has been an up-and-down season. From an outsider’s perspective, the young veteran appears to be evolving into one of the leaders of an inexperienced pitching staff and ball club in general.
Whether or not he asserted that leadership in the correct way yesterday when he plunked Jordy Mercer depends on who you ask.
Do you think Zach Davies did the right thing when he hit Jordy Mercer in retaliation?
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