St. Louis Cardinals: Did a new layer get added to the Reds rivalry?

Jack Flaherty (22) pitches during the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jack Flaherty (22) pitches during the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

A player was hit in the helmet by a pitch that got away from a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher. It seemed relatively harmless but Umpire Crew Chief Joe West certainly added his own spice to a simmering rivalry.

There was one out in the sixth inning of the finale of a three-game set between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals were up 4-0 thanks to two homers off the bat of Tyler O’Neill and Jack Flaherty was pitching a gem to get the potential sweep.

Tucker Barnhart had just struck out swinging as Jonathan India came to bat. With Andrew Knizner set away, a 94.1 mph fastball got away from Flaherty hitting India in the helmet. As India collapsed, Flaherty turned away from the scene bending over.

You could tell from Jack’s reaction this was an accident. It was in no way, shape or form, intentional. Here’s some video from of the incident.

As Reds manager David Bell and staff were making sure India was OK, it was a bit perplexing to see the umpiring crew gather to discuss the situation. It was obviously an accident.

But, there was a bit of tension between the Reds and Cardinals dating back to the first weekend of the season. Nick Castellanos flexing over rookie pitcher Jake Woodford led to a benches-clearing incident between the teams in Cincinnati. This was why every time Castellanos was at bat or on the field, he received a chorus of boos. Here’s a post discussing that event.

So, you could see what West may have been thinking in the moment. He didn’t want things escalating and another bench-clearing ensue between the teams.

As India made his way to first, West gave both teams a warning to not do this again or retaliate.

As Manager Mike Shildt calmly asked about the decision, Bell became lit with anger. Bell’s intense discussion with West went on for a bit and ultimately led to his ejection from the game. You could see Bell maybe inquiring if it was such a big deal to issue warnings, should the umpires have ejected Flaherty or Shildt.

As it was an accident, that would have enraged Shildt and the fans who were enjoying seeing their ace dealing until India went down. Warnings may have been odd to see, but it was a relief to see no Cardinals ejected.

Interesting to note this was Bell’s 12th ejection of his short managerial career and he, along with his father Buddy, become the second father and son to be ejected by West. The other father and son to be ejected by West are Bob and Aaron Boone.

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Other than India doing a little jawing at Flaherty from first base, nothing more dramatic happened in the game which the Cardinals won 5-2, sweeping the series from the Reds.  It was great to see.

India was removed from the game after the sixth inning for some testing by medical staff. Here’s hoping India is OK. I’m sure he will be watched closely. He’s an intense scrappy little player and you want to see him compete.

As for the rivalry between the Cardinals and Reds this season, West just wanted to add a little spice to the simmering pot between the teams. There will be some anger for Flaherty by India. Castellanos will be booed every time his name is mentioned at Busch Stadium and Yadier Molina will be booed at Great American Ball Park. Flaherty may receive similar boos from the Cincy faithful.

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The simmering between the teams will be on a low boil until they meet again at Busch, June 3-6. Both teams will have some other teams to be concerned about, but don’t hesitate to get your popcorn ready for this June meet up!