The Angels lost to the Tigers 3-2 on Sunday in a Cy Young Showdown that became all too personal – much too testy and way too stupid in a flash. Jered Weaver and Justin Verlander were engaged in a predictably tight contest with the Tigers leading 2-0 heading into home half of the 7th. That’s when things got out of control. With 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th Carlos Guillen lined a laser into the right field seats and then put on a show boating display that would make Rickey Henderson say ” Hey Carlos tone it down son”.
Naturally Weaver was heated as he felt Magglio Ordonez also had shown him up on his 2 run jack earlier in the day. So Guillen’s trash talk and shimmy proved to be the boiling point. Jered promptly through the next pitch way up and in to Alex Avila and was ejected from the game. Weav went out with a blaze though, hurling a series of F- Bomb’s and Your Mom is not cool’s toward the Tigers dugout prior to his departure. As if that weren’t enough drama the saga would continue.
The top of the 8th produced more fireworks when Erick Aybar dropped down a bunt to lead off the inning. Verlander fielded the bunt , but then through wildly to first base allowing Aybar to advanced to second. The bunt produced the ideal scenario Aybar had hoped for and proved to be a key play in igniting the Angels stagnant offense. Naturally Verlander was upset by the play as the bunt , had it been properly scored a single would have broken up JV’s no hit bid. Instead the Tigers home score keeper showed some love, scoring the play and error and the no hitter continued until Maicer Izturis singled home Peter Bourjos making the score 3-2.
Verlander was pulled from the game and then promptly shouted at Aybar that he is going to get drilled in the back the next time Verlander faces him. You see some people ( Including Justin Verlander) still believe that even in a close game you don’t bunt in the late innings when a guy has a no hitter going. Even if you’re Erick Aybar ( a notoriously good bunter) and your team is 2 games back in the quest for a division title. Tigers Manager Jim Leyland however applauded the play saying:
“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.
“He’s trying to get on base and as it turned out, it was a big play for them because that was one that got it going for them.”
More than that, Leyland said they were prepared.
“We had Kelly playing in for the bunt,” he said. “Had we thought it wasn’t a good play, we would have had him back. I thought it was a hell of a play.
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110801/SPORTS0104/108010349/Jim-Leyland-applauds-Erick-Aybar-s-bunt#ixzz1TobdmUYS
Jose Valverde would come on to preserve the win for the Tigers 3-2 putting an end to what was an entertaining but unnecessary day at the ball park. Torii Hunter when asked about the days extracurricular activities summed it up best saying:
That was stupid—it was all stupid. Everybody was stupid,” he said. “That was unprofessional on both sides.”
I tend to agree with Torii on this point. Weaver overreacted to what he thought was Ordonez show boating on a home run which was probably more Ordonez waiting to see if the ball was indeed fair. Then Guillen stupidly escalated the situation by going Rickey Henderson on his jack in the 7th. Weaver then in turn made matters worse and accomplished nothing by throwing at the head of Alex Avila on the ensuing pitch. Want to make a statement? Rush Guillen Patrick Willis style mid home run trot and go to town.
As for Verlander? Making threats to hurt people is never a good idea. In the heat of the moment sure – things get out of control – but making threats as a grown man is never a good look. Moreover Aybar’s play was legit even in the unwritten rule book. If the game is close a players allegiance lies with his team and trying to win the game. Verlander’s personal agenda to preserve the no hitter takes a back seat to the opposition winning a baseball game 100% of the time. While Verlander is no doubt a great pitcher – the move to threaten Aybar was childish and misguided as was Jered Weaver’s decision to throw at Avila’s head.
After Sunday Weaver and Verlander are running neck and neck for CY Young, but both could get a better handle on sportsmanship.