Seattle Mariners starting pitcher George Kirby throws to a Houston...

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher George Kirby throws to a Houston Astros batter during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Seattle. Credit: AP/John Froschauer

SEATTLE — Seattle pitcher George Kirby could crack a joke about what happened afterward. In the moment, it was just confusion.

There was an unexpected moment of anxiousness for Kirby and the Mariners in the sixth inning of their 6-2 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night after a foul ball hit into the stands behind the third base dugout was thrown back by a fan and grazed the pitcher.

Kirby was looking toward home plate and asking for a new ball from home plate umpire David Rackley when the ball came over the protective netting and brushed the front of his jersey in his midsection.

“It surprised the hell out of me. I thought it was the umpire because I had my hand up, asked for the ball. Thought he had threw it," Kirby said. "I mean, it was an impressive throw. I'll give him that. But, you know, what the heck?"

Seattle manager Scott Servais only saw it out of the corner of his eye and was instantly confused about what had taken place. The ball rolled over to first baseman Ty France, who threw it out of play.

“I’ve never seen it before and certainly in our home park,” Servais said.

The fan, who was wearing a Mariners jersey, was quickly identified by stadium officials and escorted out. Servais said the information relayed to him was because it was a foul ball hit by an Astros player, the fan thought he should throw it back toward the field.

“The fact that he threw it at our starting pitcher in maybe the most critical game of the year — interesting. But you know, never a dull moment around the Mariners,” Servais said.

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