Marcus Stroman said it slipped. Major League Baseball disagreed.
In any event, after the scary beanings of Giancarlo Stanton and Chase Headley, the former Patchogue-Medford High School star was hit with a six-game suspension Wednesday for "throwing a pitch in the head area" of the Orioles' Caleb Joseph during Monday night's game at Camden Yards.
Earlier that night, Joseph stepped on the hand of Jose Reyes, who slid headfirst into the plate. Reyes was seen shouting at the Orioles from the dugout, and later, Stroman rifled a 92-mph fastball behind Joseph's head that hit the backstop on a fly.
Umpire Ted Barrett then warned both benches, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter argued that Stroman should have been ejected. After Stroman struck out Joseph, he began jawing with the Orioles' dugout as he walked off the field. Stroman will appeal the suspension, but it is unclear if it will he held before his next start, which is scheduled for Saturday against the Yankees.
"It's tough," Stroman told reporters before Wednesday night's game in Baltimore. "It's in the appeal process now. I would never intentionally throw at anyone. I respect the game. I respect the players too much to ever do anything like that. Family, friends, teammates know the type of individual I am."
Stroman, 23, is having a strong rookie season, at 10-6 with a 3.80 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances. But MLB clearly sent a zero-tolerance of headhunting message with the suspension, especially after the unsettling images of seeing Stanton and Headley injured.
"You've got to keep some sanity," Showalter said on Monday night. "You let your emotions take over and all of a sudden somebody's lying at home plate in a pool of blood with a blow to the head. How really manly do you feel? Was it really worth it?"
Showalter also called Stroman's actions "borderline professionally embarrassing."