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Twins pitcher, manager ejected for throwing behind Yermín Mercedes after HR controversy

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·3 min read
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The Minnesota Twins may not have accepted Tony La Russa's apology, though La Russa is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Less than 24 hours after Chicago White Sox designated hitter Yermín Mercedes hit the unwritten rules violation heard 'round the world, Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey threw a first-pitch fastball behind the rookie in the seventh inning on Tuesday.

After some quick deliberation, the umpires opted to eject Duffey for the 93 mph pitch, then eject Twins manager Rocco Baldelli for protesting the ejection.

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Even if Duffey protested that the pitch was unintentional, the context was hard to ignore. Mercedes had just triggered baseball's latest unwritten rules controversy on Monday when he hit a home run off Twins catcher Willians Astudillo while his team was up 15-4 and he was up 3-0 in the count. 

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Baldelli said before Tuesday's game he was surprised by the decision to swing away, while Astudillo was visibly unhappy as the game ended. The unhappiest person on the field, though, may have been Mercedes' own manager Tony La Russa, who said the rookie ignored a take sign and pledged to punish him in some form for the transgression. 

La Russa, a notorious stickler for the unwritten rules, told reporters on Tuesday that he apologized to the Twins for Mercedes' swing, but that apparently may not have been enough.

Tony La Russa has no qualms with the Twins, unlike his shortstop

White Sox star Tim Anderson, who publicly supported Mercedes' swing, appeared convinced the pitch thrown behind Mercedes was retaliation. He had some loud words for Duffey:

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La Russa, however, told reporters after the game that he didn't believe the Twins intentionally threw at Mercedes, or at least didn't mind how they handled the situation, per MLB.com's Scott Merkin:

"It wasn’t obvious to me. The guy threw a sinker. It didn’t look good. So, I wasn’t that suspicious. I’m suspicious if somebody throws at somebody’s head. I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled that."

In a rare case of managers agreeing about the intent of a ball thrown at a hitter, Baldelli said pretty much the same thing, per MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park:

"We were going out there to pitch him in. That’s going to be part of what we do with him. ... That being said, again, we have to live with that, we have to live with the umpires’ decision."

Mercedes eventually walked in the plate appearance, at which point the White Sox were up 4-2. The Twins rallied back in the eighth to tie the game up, however, and then won the game in the ninth after Jorge Polanco hit an RBI single.

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