Rupe insists Martin plunking was innocent

Rupe insists Martin plunking was innocent

BALTIMORE -- Orioles reliever Josh Rupe knows what it looked like. So did manager Buck Showalter. But Rupe said after Saturday's lopsided 15-3 loss to the Yankees that the pitch that hit New York catcher Russell Martin in the back was not intended to send any kind of message.

"Trust me, that's the last thing that I want to do," Rupe said of the first-pitch fastball that hit Martin -- who had already homered twice -- in the upper back.

"I know how it looked, and for me and a lot of these guys on this team, I pitch in. That's what I do when I'm coming out of the 'pen. I've already given up a home run, and yeah, I was really [ticked] off. But I'm not going to resort to possibly hurting a guy and end his career or anything like that. There's no reason for me to do that."

"I was all over the map. For me, did I want to send a message? No, I'm not that type of guy."

Rupe entered the game with the bases loaded in the eighth inning and surrendered a grand slam to Alex Rodriguez. After recording two outs in the ninth, he hit Martin, and the first-year Yankee -- after flipping his bat -- had some choice words for Rupe before taking first base.

"Yes -- there's no doubt about it," Martin said when asked if he thought Rupe's pitch was intentional. "I want to stay in the lineup, so I'm not going to do anything stupid, but I wouldn't recommend him doing that again."

It was the common sentiment in the Yankees' clubhouse: Rupe's 91-mph fastball was intended to hit their catcher.

"I'll just say it [was] beautiful," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of watching the next batter, Brett Gardner, launch a two-run homer.

When asked again about Rupe's pitch, Girardi was less subtle.

"It was right at his head," Girardi said.

"That's a heck of a coincidence if it wasn't intentional," added Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "I've never understood it. It doesn't make any sense. All it takes is one stray pitch to hit you in the head, hit you in the wrist, the elbow and ruin your season. That's not baseball. There's no place for it."

Showalter, who asked Rupe point-blank following the game, stood by what he was told.

"I choose to believe my pitcher, and I've known Josh for a long time," Showalter said. "I think he'd be very straight with me. But I do understand what it looked like, and it didn't look good."

Rupe, who watched a replay of the pitch, said he will speak to Martin if he sees him on Sunday and hopes to defuse the situation before it escalates in the series finale.

"I feel bad, too," Rupe said. "Not only was I not trying to hit him, but I don't want our guys to get hit in return or anything like that. I'm not here to get anybody hurt -- our team or their team. I'm here to try to get people out."

After a solid spring, Rupe has pitched to a 7.71 ERA, allowing eight earned runs on 10 hits in 9 1/3 innings, and four of those hits have been homers. Still, he maintained on Saturday night that he didn't let his frustration boil over.

"There's no way that I would do that and intentionally go at somebody's head or go way up there," Rupe said. "I know how to hit a guy when the situation calls for it, and that wasn't it."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.