BOSTON — This time, the Red Sox didn’t let it slide.
Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected with two outs in the second inning of Wednesday night’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park for having an illegal substance on his neck and likely faces a suspension.
The ejection came 13 days after Pineda shut down the Red Sox on a chilly night at Yankee Stadium, allowing one run in six innings in a 4-1 win. But many of the headlines after that April 10 game revolved around the 25-year-old righthander being caught with what appeared to be excessive pine tar on the lower palm of his pitching hand.
Joe Torre, MLB’s vice president of baseball operations, spoke with general manager Brian Cashman the next day, but Pineda was not disciplined. Cashman downplayed the episode, at the time saying for him it was “not an issue.”
The Red Sox, led by manager John Farrell, agreed, saying in cold weather it’s acceptable, and preferable, for a pitcher to try to get a better grip. But Farrell also said then, and again Wednesday afternoon, that Pineda should be more discreet.
The big streak that appeared on the right side of Pineda’s neck in the second inning on Wednesday night — cameras didn’t show anything in the first inning — ran afoul of that suggestion. With two outs in the second and a 1-and-2 count on Grady Sizemore, Farrell came out of the dugout to talk to plate umpire Gerry Davis.
Davis walked to the mound, inspected Pineda’s glove and right hand before touching the pitcher’s neck. The crew chief could be seen saying, “That’s pine tar,” and promptly tossed Pineda, who entered 2-1 with a 1.00 ERA.
Joe Girardi, who didn’t acknowledge seeing or knowing about the substance on Pineda’s hand April 10, didn’t put up much of an argument with Davis.
Pineda violated Rule 8.02 (b), which states a pitcher cannot “Have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance. For such infraction of this section (b) the penalty shall be immediate ejection from the game. In addition, the pitcher shall be suspended automatically. In National Association Leagues, the automatic suspension shall be for 10 games.”
It is an automatic 10-game suspension in the minor leagues; Major League Baseball will make its own determination after speaking with the umpires. Rays pitcher Joel Peralta drew an eight-game suspension in 2012 for having pine tar found on his glove, MLB’s last major incident with the substance.
In a pine tar-less first, Sizemore, in a 1-for-26 slump, hit a leadoff triple and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s single. With one out, Mike Napoli blooped a single to right, moving Pedroia to third. Pineda got Mike Carp to fly to short left, but Derek Jeter couldn’t handle A.J. Pierzynski’s grounder behind the bag at second — it was scored a hit — and Pedroia scored for a 2-0 lead.
David Phelps, who replaced Pineda, allowed two unearned runs in the third that made it 4-0. The Yankees scored on John Lackey in the sixth on Alfonso Soriano’s sacrifice fly.
Lackey (3-2) allowed one run in eight innings, striking out 11 and walking none.