The White Sox and Nationals have been well out of playoff contention for months now, so last night’s game between the two teams didn’t matter much. But that didn’t stop the benches from clearing in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Chicago starter Mike Clevinger pitched a gem. For the first eight innings, he kept Washington scoreless, allowing just five hits. Manager Pedro Grifol left him out there for the ninth so that he could chase his first complete game shutout since 2020, and Clevinger got two quick outs to start the final inning.
That brought Dominic Smith to the plate. Clevinger was one strike away from ending the game when he left a fastball high over the heart of the plate. Smith jumped on it and crushed a homer to ruin the shutout. The White Sox were still up 6–1.
That’s when the drama started. After Smith crossed the plate, the took a step out toward the mound as if he was ready to confront Clevinger. A replay showed that Clevinger was upset with how Smith took his time circling the bases and pointed toward the scoreboard as Smith crossed home.
Mike Clevinger/Dom Smith Drama. pic.twitter.com/CJTkP6rCdT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 19, 2023
Really, guys? This is what we’re fighting over? It’s a meaningless homer at the end of a meaningless game. Sure, Clevinger would have liked to have finished out the shutout. And sure, it must have felt good for Smith to finally put a run on the board. But Smith didn’t have to gloat about cutting the deficit from six runs to five, and Clevinger didn’t have acknowledging Smith’s over-the-top celebration.
“He did his dance, stayed at the plate for 10 seconds after getting absolutely obliterated all night,” Clevinger said after the game. “And then, when he went around the bases ... wanted to continue to try to mock me after him and everyone else didn’t have a good night. So I gave him my piece and that was it.”