That is why Toronto was content with letting the umpires do their job when Jose Bautista -- baseball's home run leader -- was hit by the pitch twice in Sunday's 5-2 victory over Baltimore. No matter how upset the Blue Jays were, retaliation was not the appropriate answer with only a handful of games left on the schedule.
"We've just got to remember it for next year when we play these guys," Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum said.
Marcum fashioned a strong seven-inning performance en route to his 13th win, setting a career high for victories after missing all of last season to recover from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. In doing so, Marcum helped the Blue Jays (80-75) finish the year with a 15-3 ledger against the Orioles.
On another day, Marcum might have provided the primary storyline. Unfortunately, it was the antics of Baltimore's pitching staff that consumed the postgame commentary within Toronto's clubhouse. The Blue Jays took exception to Bautista being hit by the pitch on two occasions.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was asked if he thought the inside pitches had something to do with the fact that Bautista led the Majors with 52 home runs.
"It's certainly got nothing to do with him being a cab driver," Gaston said. "They were pitching up around his head. There's other guys that hit home runs in this league. I don't see [Detroit's Miguel] Cabrera getting knocked down all the time. I don't like it.
"I'm only here for a few more days, but I'm not going to put up with that."
Bautista did not think it made sense to target him simply because of his power production this year.
"That'd be pretty stupid of them to try to do something like that," Bautista said. "If they have a good hitter on their team, that means everybody gets to throw at them? I don't think that's why. I don't really know if there's a reason for it. All I know is I got hit twice."
It began in the third inning, when Orioles right-hander Rick VandenHurk hit Bautista on the left arm with an 0-1 pitch. Two batters later, Bautista scored on an RBI double from Lyle Overbay to push the Blue Jays to a 3-1 lead. VandenHurk, making his first start of the season, exited after just four innings.
Marcum then grazed Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott with an inside pitch to lead off the top of the fourth inning. Home-plate umpire Bill Welke ruled that Scott was hit by the pitch and warnings were promptly issued to both teams.
For the fifth inning, Orioles manager Buck Showalter called upon right-hander Alfredo Simon, who is typically used in short-relief situations. Gaston thought it was an interesting time to turn to Simon.
"He's a short guy, not a long guy," Gaston said. "So that was suspicious."
After Simon struck out Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill, he threw two fastballs for balls to Bautista. The third pitch sailed far inside and struck Toronto's right fielder on the right arm. While the crowd inside Rogers Centre unleashed a chorus of boos, Welke immediately ejected both Simon and Showalter from the game.
"I can understand why he did it and what it looks like," Showalter said of being ejected. "No intention right there -- just a wild pitcher. I would have felt the same way [Welke] did and I'm sure Cito did. The rules are set up for not letting something like that get out of hand."
Bautista kept his cool.
"I wasn't upset," Bautista said. "After there's a warning and the catcher sets up outside, to get hit, to me it's pretty obvious what they were doing. They didn't care to have a pitcher ejected."
Simon insisted that he did not hit Bautista intentionally.
"It was not on purpose," Simon said. "I just tried to throw one inside and it got him. It was not on purpose. He's a friend of mine. There was no reason to hit him."
The Blue Jays did not see it that way.
"I guess that's how they do things over there. I don't know," Marcum said. "I think we have a little more respect for the game and respect for players on other teams. We're not going to throw at them on purpose, even if they have 50-plus homers or whatever. But it is a part of baseball.
"I understand you have to pitch people inside, but to bring a guy in from the bullpen and throw two pitches at him and then get ejected, it seemed like it was very intentional."
Asked if he considered retaliating, Marcum did not hesitate with his answer.
"Absolutely," he replied. "You've got to stick up for your players somehow. That's one way to do it. I just wasn't comfortable at that point to do anything. We've still got a lot of baseball left in the season and there's no need to try to get suspended or do anything stupid -- have somebody get hurt or a bench-clearing or something like that."
Instead, Marcum settled for the win, limiting the Orioles (61-94) to one unearned run on just four hits. The right-hander finished with seven strikeouts and two walks and turned in his seventh quality start in his past eight outings. Marcum's showing was aided by a three-RBI showing from veteran infielder John McDonald.
Gaston said he was surprised that Bautista was hit twice in the win, considering the Blue Jays and Orioles have "never had any bad blood." The Jays manager quickly added that next year could be a different story given Sunday's events.
"There's ways of handling that sort of stuff," Bautista said. "It's not new to the game of baseball. It's been played for over a century. It's supposed to be dealt with between the lines with baseball plays and we just didn't get a chance to get back at them."