Josh Donaldson’s sensitivity gets Joe Musgrove tossed from game

Almost as soon as Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove grazed Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson with a first-inning pitch Monday, the duo exchanged words.

One doesn’t need to be a lip-reading expert to decipher Donaldson’s immediate jump from calm to heated: He seemed to yell, “What are you looking at? What the f- are you looking at?” toward Musgrove, who shouted something in return. Pittsburgh catcher Elias Diaz tried to get between Donaldson and Musgrove, but Donaldson shoved him to the side while the benches cleared.

Donaldson, Musgrove and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle were ejected, though arguably nobody should have been kicked from the game. If anyone needed to go, it was probably Donaldson, who seemed to overreact to a pitch that barely hit him. The infielder told reporters after the game that he believed Musgrove provoked him by walking toward him after the pitch.

Injured Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon responded to the incident on Twitter, calling it “unbelievable” Musgrove was ejected.

Neither the Pirates nor Donaldson have earned the benefit of the doubt in these kinds of matters. Pittsburgh threw at Reds outfielder Derek Dietrich earlier this season for watching one of his home runs, while Donaldson has built a reputation over the course of his career of being a chippy player unafraid of speaking his mind to opponents.

The ejections changed the course of Monday’s game – and potentially the series. In the second inning, Musgrove’s replacement, Alex McRae, surrendered a grand slam to Ronald Acuña Jr. The Pirates were forced to wear out the rubber arms in their bullpen to get through the contest, tasking three pitchers with the final 8 1/3 innings.

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