Braves’ Josh Donaldson, Pirates’ Joe Musgrove ejected after staredown leads to benches-clearing incident

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Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson and Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove — along with his manager Clint Hurdle — were tossed from Monday’s game in the first inning after a bizarre dust-up. 

Musgrove hit Donaldson with a pitch, but it just grazed Donaldson’s jersey and gave the Braves runners on first and third with two outs. I can’t see how this would be deemed intentional at all. Then Donaldson seemed to engage in a staredown with Musgrove and they both started yelling variations of “what are you looking at” and it led to the slight benches-clearing scuffle. 

Was it nothing more than just testosterone-based bravado? They’ve previously faced each other eight times with Donaldson having doubled twice and struck out twice. There was no hit-by-pitch, previously. It just doesn’t seem like it would escalate like this without history, but I can’t find anything of substance before Monday. 

Further, why were they both ejected? No punches were thrown. Donaldson tossed the catcher aside in an attempt to get to Musgrove, but nothing bad really happened. We couldn’t hear what words were being said, but man, it just seemed so unnecessary to eject them. 

We do know about the Pirates’ recent history, which is they are probably the number one team that comes to mind in terms of teams that will hit players on purpose, whether in retaliation or just that you violated their so-called unwritten rules. This pitch, however, couldn’t possibly come across as a purpose pitch. 

This is all just very weird. 

Regardless, it was at least slightly entertaining. My favorite part was Musgrove taking off his hat — just the funny simplicity of the move as he’s preparing for possible battle. 

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