Monday: “Sloppy baseball stinks.”
I thought about writing about the differing views of Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit on a bullpen by committee (count on that coming soon). Then I thought about detailing what we learned about Bruce Rondon from his latest outing, but I already wrote about that today on the site. So since this is my blog, I figured I’d run down a list of why Monday’s game between the Tigers and Mets was one of the strangest Spring Training games I’ve seen in a long time:
- Verlander’s outing (more on the details later). You can read the basic pitching line on the box score here, but it doesn’t show all the 3-0 counts, at least four of them by my count. It doesn’t show that he gave up a run on a balk with nobody on base other than the guy on third, then made that ruling irrelevant by giving up a home run a couple pitches later. It also doesn’t show Verlander on his way into the dugout looking to pitching coach Jeff Jones for advice. He was out of rhythm, and it showed all over.
- Danny Worth breaking up a double play attempt by literally lunging under the tag attempt, then beating the throw to second base from the first baseman after the Mets opted for the easy out. That’s the first time I remember seeing that trick work in that particular fashion.
- Communication issues all around the outfield once the substitutes entered — first between Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch in right field on a ball that dropped, then between Berry and Jeff Kobernus in left-center on a ball that was caught in the middle of a collision. Most of the damage happened in the seventh inning behind Phil Coke, who couldn’t have been happy. For a manager who spends time at the start of each Spring Training emphasizing to players the importance of calling for a ball, it had to be frustrating to watch.
- Jhonny Peralta being scratched from the starting lineup at the last minute because of a food allergy — not a poorly prepared food, but a food Peralta knew he was allergic to. Somehow, Peralta ended up eating clam chowder and not realizing it was clam chowder until it was too late.
- But nothing tops, on the bizarre scale, the hit-by-pitch Jordany Valdespin suffered when he squared around to bunt in the fifth inning. It was a 94 mph fastball to the groin, and it was tough to watch. The fact that he left the field on his own power and was able to smile about it later made it easier to find some humor about it. “He took a hack at the first pitch. He already hit one bomb,” Verlander said. “And then the next one, he just totally squared at me, and I’m like, ‘Oh God, this isn’t going to be good.’ Right out of the hand, it’s like, ‘Oh, [crap], that is right at his [groin].’”
This was one of those games that was a throwback to Alan Trammell’s oft-used saying from his old managerial days: “Sloppy baseball stinks.”