SAN FRANCISCO - Nationals pitcher Jason Marquis, who was ejected from Sunday's game against the Diamondbacks after he hit Justin Upton with a pitch in the sixth inning and suspended for five games on Tuesday, said again he wasn't trying to hit Upton and was hopeful his suspension - the first of his career - would be overturned in the appeal process.
The Nationals had a 1-0 lead when Marquis plunked Upton; it was the fourth time in the series that Upton had been hit, and it came after both benches had been warned following Jayson Werth's third hit-by-pitch of the series in the fifth inning. That got Marquis tossed, and by rule, manager Jim Riggleman was also ejected; he got a one-game suspension he'll serve tonight.
Marquis, though, made a couple points in his own defense: First, the Nationals had a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, with a man on first when Upton came to the plate. "We're trying to put something together good as a team here. We're trying to win as many ballgames as we could," Marquis said. "The game's one-nothing. You don't want to allow it to get away from you just because you're trying to show your manhood or something. I'm out there trying to win as many games as possible."
He also pointed out the difference between the pitch he thew and the way most pitchers hit batters; he threw a two-seam fastball that started over the plate and moved to the left. When most pitchers are trying to hit someone, they throw a four-seam fastball with little movement. But he said when he pitches in Arizona, he'll struggle to spot his sinker because the dry air doesn't allow him to get much moisture on the ball and control it.
"If you watch where that pitch started, it probably started on the outer third and moved three feet," Marquis said. "Can I control how I'm going to throw a three-foot sinker, and hopefully it runs in and hits him. Most guys take a four-seamer and usually drill a guy. But the catcher's set up away. You're talking about a ball that moved three feet if you watch the film."
When the pitch hit Upton, Marquis immediately threw his hands up in the air and angrily smacked his hand into his glove, knowing he was going to be ejected. The right-hander said he's never been suspended or ejected in 12 seasons.
He'll have an appeal hearing in the near future, but the process should take long enough that Marquis is able to make his scheduled start on Friday against the Padres. He also pointed out that Ian Kennedy wasn't tossed for hitting Werth this inning before - and indicated he planned to include that in his case to Major League Baseball.
"It felt like, in that situation, maybe (the warning) should have been done, but that's not my call," Marquis said. "All you've got to do is go out there and pitch to what I'm trying to do. I'm trying not to lose aggressiveness and focus based on what decisions were made by the umpires."