On Saturday, Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata controversially broke up Max Scherzer’s perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning when he was hit by a two-strike slider. Some argued that Tabata intentionally leaned into the pitch. Others argued he should have at least made more of an effort to get out of the way of the pitch. Members of both groups suggested the Nationals should throw at Tabata in his first at-bat on Sunday.
Tabata took his place in the batter’s box in the second inning of Sunday afternoon’s series finale in Washington, D.C. against Gio Gonzalez, treated to a chorus of boos from the home crowd. Gonzalez’s first pitch to Tabata was a 91 MPH fastball over the middle of the plate.
Gonzalez would have been in the wrong for throwing at Tabata. For one, that would simply make him a bad human being, as a batter’s career can end in an instant if he’s hit by a pitch in the wrong area. Moreover, Tabata did nothing wrong in getting hit on Saturday when he faced Scherzer. The logic that getting hit by a pitch to break up Scherzer’s perfect game is “bush league” — as many argued yesterday — is as silly as thinking that Yankees reliever Jose De Paula was bush league for not throwing a meatball to J.D. Martinez this afternoon when he came to the plate in the seventh inning with an opportunity to have a four-homer game. He flew out to right field instead. Should the Tigers have thrown at one of the Yankees? Or maybe Bryan Holaday — who hit directly behind Martinez — should have kicked a clump of dirt around home plate into Yankees catcher Brian McCann’s face?
Unwritten rules are dumb, you guys.
Matt Harvey made his spring debut today. It was his first action since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2013. It was pretty darn good.
He struck out the first batter he faced, Anthony Gose. He broke the bat of Jose Iglesias. Then he got Rajai Davis to hit into a simple ground ball out, breaking his bat too. Total for the first inning: ten pitches. He dialed it up to 98 m.p.h. on his fastball. No sweat.
In the second Harvey got Nick Castellanos to fly out to right-center. Then someone named Jordan Lennerton to strike out on three pitches (note: the Tigers don’t send a lot of veterans on the long bus ride to Port St. Lucie). Finally, Bryan Holaday struck out looking. Harvey hit 99 on the gun on his penultimate pitch.
Harvey tossed 25 pitches. He was slated to throw up to 35 today. So yeah, I’d say he had a good day.
The Orioles were in a bit of hot water after bringing a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Closer Zach Britton, who had been fantastic all year long for the O’s, allowed back-to-back doubles to Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez. The Tigers halved their deficit and put the tying run in scoring position with no outs.
Britton buckled down, striking out Bryan Holaday after failing to bunt the runner over to third base. Orioles manager Buck Showalter called for the intentional walk to Nick Castellanos, putting runners at first and second but also setting up a potential game-ending double play. As fate would have it, the intentional walk worked, as Britton induced pinch-hitter Hernan Perez to hit a weak ground ball to third baseman Ryan Flaherty, who made the toss to second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who completed the double play with a throw to first baseman Steve Pearce.
After sweeping the Tigers out of the ALDS, the Orioles await the winner of the ALDS between the Royals and Angels. Game 3 is under way in Kansas City. The Royals enter play with a 2-0 series lead. The ALCS will begin on Friday, October 10. The Orioles will be participating in the ALCS for the first time since 1997.