Ausmus: Walkoff balk was an accidental sign

On the first day of Tigers workouts, new manager Brad Ausmus had his pitchers working on pickoff throws, including the little-used pickoff to third base. Given Ausmus’ focus on preparation all spring, it was surely going to come into play in a game.

Ausmus just didn’t want it in <i>this</i> game. And as he walked out of the dugout Friday night, having seen reliever Luis Marte called for a balk that brought in the Yankees’ winning run in a 3-2 Tigers loss, Ausmus was struggling to figure out why Marte tried a pickoff throw in the first place.

Then it hit him.

“We have a play where you pick to third, and I unknowingly gave it,” Ausmus said. “Really, as I was walking up the runway, I realized that I had given it to him. Don’t blame the player for that one. Blame the manager.”

For all the praise heaped on Ausmus for his intellect and his focus on preparation, he was bound for a miscue. This was the first noticeable one, although he might have gotten away with it and left Marte with the blame had he not fessed up after the game.

“It was my fault,” Ausmus reiterated. “The player didn’t screw up. I actually ended up giving a sign by accident and realized after I walked off the field that I had given a sign. You can chalk that one up to me.”

Marte had runners at the corners and one out in the bottom of the ninth. Third baseman Francisco Martinez apparently did not pick off the accidental sign, because he wasn’t at the bag when the throw came in. That brought the balk call, which brought in the game-ending run.


how does that warrant the balk call? Am I dense or is that a throwing error that led to the run then?

Rule 8.01(d) Comment: A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base.

Or could be because the 3b was not at the pillow,and that could be interpreted as an attempt to deceive. Years ago, something similar happened to Keith Hernández. The balk was called because of the first baseman not the pitcher.

El Tigre, you really got that rule book down. Whenever I read it (i have it on my desktop) I get a headache. Interesting particularly because I read dozens of science papers each week – and otherwise read frequently.

Im a law professor

There are a couple of good books about the rules. And they are not expensive. It is easier to read comments than read the rules directly.
Anyway,no matter how well you know the rule, probably no one really knows what is a balk.

The balk was called because of the third baseman not the pitcher.

Tigres lineup: Kinsler 2b, Carrera lf, Hunter rf, VMart 1b, Kelly 3b, Castellanos dh, Fields cf, Holaday c, Lombardozzi ss. Smyly p

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