Seattle Mariners pitcher George Kirby was struck by an errant ball, but not in the way that many would expect. During Tuesday's game against the Houston Astros, a foul ball was hit into the stands, but the fan who caught the ball decided to toss it back into the field of play.
Kirby was standing on the mound asking for a new ball from home plate umpire David Rackley when a ball came hurtling toward him. After coming over the protective netting behind home plate, the ball hit Kirby's midsection.
"It surprised the hell out of me. I thought it was the umpire because I had my hand up, asked for the ball. Thought he had threw it," Kirby said. "I mean, it was an impressive throw. I'll give him that. But, you know, what the heck?"
Mariners manager Scott Servais nearly missed what happened and was quite perplexed as to what was going on. The ball landed close to Seattle first baseman Ty France, and France ended up tossing the ball out of play, where it stayed.
"I've never seen it before and certainly in our home park," Servais said.
The fan, who happened to be wearing a Mariners jersey, was identified by security staff and escorted out of T-Mobile Park. Servais added that he was told the fan decided to throw the ball back because it was hit by an Astros player.
"The fact that he threw it at our starting pitcher in maybe the most critical game of the year -- interesting," Servais said. "But you know, never a dull moment around the Mariners."
The Mariners ended up winning Tuesday's game, 6-2, and are now half a game behind the Astros in the AL wild-card race.