Tempers flare between Dutch, U.S.
Lindstrom throws behind batter after Netherlands homer in eighth
MIAMI -- Bryan Engelhardt hit a big league home run off a big league pitcher. So he big leagued it. As a result, teammate Vince Rooi got a welcome-to-the-big-leagues fastball behind the back.
In the eighth inning of Sunday night's World Baseball Classic game between the United States and The Netherlands, Engelhardt cranked a home run off of Team USA and Florida Marlins right-hander Matt Lindstrom. He stood for a moment to admire it -- perhaps a moment too long, but not an excessive display by most standards.
For whatever reason, be it simple frustration over the long ball or annoyance that a player would be styling while the Dutch team trailed by six runs, Lindstrom took offense. His next pitch was a fastball behind Rooi. It drew the ire of The Netherlands, which in turn drew the ire of Team USA, and members of both benches momentarily took the field.
"I hit the home run, and the guy is a Major League pitcher, so you need to shake it off the next guy," Engelhardt said. "I don't see why he threw the ball [at] his head."
It was defused before an international incident got out of hand, but both sides were definitely irked.
"I'm not happy about it," said Sidney de Jong, The Netherlands' cleanup hitter. "I'm not happy about what happened. Probably he was [angry], either because he'd given up a homer or because of Bryan staying at the plate too long. I don't know. He didn't stay there that long. We just watched it on TV. It wasn't that long. Adam Dunn hit the same dinger and stood there a lot longer.
"Throwing 98, you can seriously hurt somebody. And I'm not talking about just an injury. I'm talking about serious damage. So I'm never fond of that. But it was his decision."
Lindstrom acknowledged that the pitch was, in fact, intentional but said it still got away from him somewhat.
"A little bit," Lindstrom said. "But it also was to send a message, a little bit. I don't know. It's early still in March, and stuff like that. I thought that he took a little bit too long. He knew he got it. Whatever. I wasn't trying to hit him."
Both clubs were on high alert for the remainder of the inning at least, and even after the game, the Dutch team was still steaming.
"I think it's one thing to throw inside, establish a ball inside," Netherlands manager Rod Delmonico said. "But to throw it up around someone's head and throw behind his head, there's no room for that anywhere, especially at the World Baseball Classic. I thought that was classless, to be honest with you."
USA manager Davey Johnson did offer some explanation for Lindstrom's pitch, even if Lindstrom admitted intent.
"When I came out to him he said, 'My shoulder is sore,'" Johnson said. "[Chris Iannetta] is kind of a young catcher. Normally, the catcher would motion over to the bench, say, 'His shoulder is sore,' and I would have got him out of the game. That was the reason. He wasn't throwing at the third baseman, he was trying to hop up and get a little extra on him and the ball got away from him."
And while no one on Team USA had cross words for Lindstrom, they at least understood where their opponents were coming from.
"That's what you're supposed to do, stand up for your team," USA shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "Stand up for the guy that got thrown at and make sure the other team knows that we're not going to stand for it. You know, you can't fault them for that, whether it got away from him, a guy throwing that hard, the ball going behind you is not the most comfortable feeling in the world. Sometimes you've got to do a little extra to protect your guys."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.