After giving up a total of seven runs (six earned) on 17 hits and eight walks over 11 1/3 innings against the Twins and Mariners in his first two major league starts, Yu Darvish had the best outing of his brief career tonight against the powerhouse Tigers. Go figure.
Darvish limited the Tigers to just one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings as part of a 10-3 win. The only run scored on an RBI ground out by Don Kelly in the bottom of the fourth inning. His command was still a bit shaky at times, as he walked five and struck out five while throwing 70 out of 121 pitches for strikes. Still, he managed to make it through six innings for the first time.
Mike Napoli caught Darvish’s first two major league starts, but it’s worth noting that Yorvit Torrealba was behind the plate tonight. Rangers manager Ron Washington wants to stay away from using one catcher in particular for Darvish’s outings, so they’ll likely continue to alternate in the future.
Darvish now owns a 3.57 ERA and 14/13 K/BB ratio over his first 17 2/3 innings in the big leagues. He’ll have another tough test next week when he faces the Yankees at home.
The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.
Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.
Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.
Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.
Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.