The rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals already has enough drama, but less than 10 minutes into Thursday night’s Game 1 of a four-game series at Busch Stadium, things really escalated.
With two outs in the top of the first inning, Chicago Cubs batter Ian Happ hit St. Louis Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras in the backswing. Contreras’ head was bleeding and he exited the game.
Ian Happ hit Willson Contreras in the back of the head on the backswing here.
Contreras left the game and two pitches later, Miles Mikolas hits Happ and is ejected from the game. pic.twitter.com/7yNJivbzRT
— Andy Martínez (@amartinez_11) July 27, 2023
One pitch later, Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas threw an up-and-in pitch that just missed hitting Happ. And on the second pitch, Mikolas didn’t miss Happ. If the first pitch didn’t make it obvious enough, the second pitch definitely made it clear that Mikolas was intentionally throwing at Happ.
After the hit-by-pitch, the umpiring crew met on the field and chose to eject Mikolas.
The Bally Sports Midwest Cardinals broadcast — featuring Chip Caray on play-by-play and Brad Thompson on color commentary — certainly hated the decision.
Miles Mikolas throwing at Ian Happ, and then being ejected, as seen and heard on Bally Sports Midwest (Cardinals).
"COME ON! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! HAVE A LITTLE FEEL FOR BASEBALL! HAVE A LITTLE FEEL FOR THE GAME! THAT'S AWFUL"- Brad Thompson https://t.co/y3cTZo1OiN pic.twitter.com/IUTU4ij8pV
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) July 28, 2023
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol was also ejected after he came out to defend Mikolas.
Drama to start this one. Now Marmol is tossed from the game. #STLCards
TV: Bally Sports Midwest
Stream: Bally Sports app pic.twitter.com/4QYJVKSPWd
— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) July 28, 2023
St. Louis reliever Dakota Hudson entered the game and essentially served as a new starting pitcher. The Cubs went on to score three runs after the Happ hit-by-pitch in the first inning, and Hudson allowed five earned runs over 4 1/3 innings pitched.
Here’s a peek at how the baseball world reacted to the first-inning drama:
I mean, he was obviously throwing at him. Two in a row leaves no plausible deniability. I agree, get him out of there. https://t.co/v0hZw0o64C
— Scott White (@CBSScottWhite) July 28, 2023
I’d be legitimately curious to ask @bthompson48 about this…
Happ’s contact on the swing w/ Contreras was clearly accidental, right? He gave him a hug on his way out of the game.
Mikolas then buzzed the tower, missed, & then hit him. Clearly intentional 2x!
What am I missing? https://t.co/AnpibLQKam
— Ben Heisler (@bennyheis) July 28, 2023
It is because those umpires had a feel for the game that Mikolas was ejected. You get one chance to send a message. The first message missed. That’s on you. If you keep trying, you deserve to be run. https://t.co/vGdea2n7uZ
— Matt Burnell (@mdburnell) July 28, 2023
Lmao these announcers really think you can throw at someone 2 pitches in a row and not get ejected? The absolute correct (and easy) decision from the umpires. https://t.co/5Qjo6TC11l
— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) July 28, 2023
Happ and Contreras were Cubs teammates from 2017-22, before Contreras signed with the Cardinals over the offseason.