It’s not unusual for a pitcher to get hit by a comebacker, but not in the way Mariners pitcher George Kirby was on Tuesday night.
During his start against the Astros at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Kirby was on the mound in the sixth inning when he got hit by a ball… that came from the stands.
The 25-year-old right-hander had held Houston scoreless into the frame, and with slugger Kyle Tucker at the plate, Kirby got ahead in the count 1-2 after the outfielder fouled off the third pitch of the at-bat.
But as Kirby was getting re-settled back on the mound, the ball came flying back at him, hitting him in the lower part of his torso.
Bemused by the throw, Kirby appeared to be unharmed by the throw and remained in the game as manager Scott Servais came out on the field to see what had caused the bizarre scene.
It’s not clear what prompted someone to throw the ball back at Kirby or who indeed threw the ball, but the TBS broadcast of the game did show what appeared to be a young fan in a Jarred Kelenic jersey being escorted from the ballpark.
“It just brushed his shirt. It was a foul ball, obviously, being thrown back on the field,” analyst Ron Darling said. “Bad form in the highest degree.”
Opining about the person being escorted out of the stadium, Darling added: “I hope he doesn’t come back to a game forever.”
No worse for the wear, Kirby finished off the sixth despite allowing a hit to Tucker, closing out his night with six scoreless frames and four strikeouts.
He lowered his ERA to 3.46 as the Mariners look to claw back in the American League playoff race.
Coming into the game, Seattle trailed Houston by 1 1/2 games for the final wild card spot.