The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros faced off on Tuesday, a game the Dodgers won 5-2. Pitcher Joe Kelly sparked criticism for many pitches, including one that flew toward Alex Bregman's head. Many viewers questioned his intent and accused the pitcher of purposely targeting the Astros' batter.
Kelly drew attention during the game for his pitches toward Bregman. All four were balls, and the final pitch nearly hit the batter in the head. The announcers first called the pitch "wild and outside" but later questioned whether Kelly had thrown at Bregman on purpose. Many viewers expressed similar opinions and called for MLB to discipline Kelly after the game.
3-0 pitch from Joe Kelly ends up going behind Alex Bregman. pic.twitter.com/q6P8CD5oqj— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 29, 2020
"If it were up to me, I'd suspend Kelly for a while. He threw at Bregman's head then instigated a confrontation. No need for that," one person commented after watching the clip on Twitter. Many others weighed in and said that Kelly had purposely thrown the ball at Bregman. They called Kelly "bush league" for the wild pitches.
While many fans were split about Kelly's intent, Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. had no doubts. He told reporters that Kelly's pitches were "unprofessional" and intentional. The Dodgers' pitcher was the center of controversy throughout the game, but McCullers had particular issues with the pitch toward Bregman.
"Joe Kelly threw a ball behind Bregman's head on 3-0 on purpose," McCullers said. "Not only did he take it upon himself to send a message, but he wasn't even a part of that team. We knew coming into the game he likes to go off-script. What he did was unprofessional."
Following the pitches toward Bregman, Kelly nearly sparked a brawl. He threw two pitches at Carlos Correa, forcing him away from the plate. He then struck out the Astros' batter and reacted by making a pouty face while walking off the field. Both benches cleared but did not ultimately take part in a brawl.
"When you throw a 3-0 fastball over a guy's head, now you're flirting with ending his career," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "And a couple of other balls were close. And then what really enraged everybody is when he told Carlos … he struck him out and he told him, 'Nice swing, b—.' What are you supposed to do with that? What upset me is the umpire warned us. Why don't you warn him? He's the one throwing the ball and he's the one who started this mess in the first place. I don't like it at all."
Members of the Dodgers previously expressed frustration about the Astros during an offseason event. The players said that the Astros "cheated and got away with it" during the 2017 World Series. However, the Dodgers said that they didn't want "the scraps" of a forfeited trophy. They would rather earn their own.