Oh Baseball, You And Your “Unwritten Rules”
Despite picking up a win, Justin Verlander was understandably upset after losing what would have been his third career no-hitter in the eighth inning of yesterday's Tigers-Angels game. Where Verlander directed that anger, however, isn't quite as understandable.
With the score at 3-0 in favor of the Tigers, Angels shortstop Erick Aybar attempted a bunt, thought by some to be a no-no when a pitcher's in the middle of a no-no. It's one of those unwritten macho baseball rules that are open to interpretation, and in this case, Verlander interpreted Aybar's bunt attempt as underhanded and slimy.
The bunt didn't break up Verlander's no-hitter, as Aybar ultimately reached second base because of a throwing error, but that didn't stop the Tiger's ace from staring him down and then being mad after the game.
"I know it was only 3-0, so I can understand there are arguments on both sides. But as a pitcher, we call that bush league," he said. "I think he was trying to get his team back into the game, but I also think it was a response to things that had happened before."
The "what happened before" that Verlander was referring to was Tigers teammates Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen doing some showboating after hitting homeruns against Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, which prompted Weaver to throw at Alex Avila.
Despite Verlander's insistence, Aybar claimed that he was just trying to help his team win a game.
"That's my game -- I don't have power," he said. "(Verlander) told me he'd get me next year, and I said that was OK."
Aybar also found some unlikely support from Tiger's manager Jim Leyland, who said he understood what Aybar was trying to do for the Angels, who are two games back of the Texas Rangers in the A.L. West.
"It was a beautiful play. I'll be in the minority with the people that didn't like that," he said. "They've got a good team with a lot of speed and they're trying to win a pennant just like we are. I don't have any problem with that play whatsoever."
For what it's worth, Aybar's bunt helped spark a 2-run rally for the Angels, and while it wasn't enough to win the game, it was certainly enough to justify the play. Verdict: Verlander is being a baby about this.
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