"Hi, wanna get a beer together after the game?"
It featured two of Major League Baseball’s best pitchers in Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver. Both were 2011 All-Stars. Both are vying for this year’s Cy Young award. Weaver is sporting the league’s best ERA. Verlander is third, although he leads the league in strikeouts and has thrown a no-hitter. Both are tied for second for most wins in the major leagues.
Weaver also has served up only six homers this season, but Magglio Ordóñez made it seven with a man aboard to make it a two-nothing Tigers lead.
Mags took a moment, though, before heading into his home run trot, more to make sure the ball would stay fair rather than to admire its distance. But Weaver thought he was showing him up and glared at him all the way around the bases.
The game remained scoreless in this pitcher’s duel for the next three innings, until Carlos Guillen launched another home run off Weaver in the bottom of the seventh.
Guillen is not one to admire his home runs, but perhaps thinking to get under Weaver’s skin, he stood a long moment to watch the arc and distance, before heading to first base.
It was more than poor Weaver could endure and he had words for Guillen. Guillen casually flung his bat aside and, facing Weaver, took a few slide steps and had a few words of his own.
As he finished his trek around the bases, the home plate umpire came out to issue Weaver a warning.
When Weaver threw at the next batter’s head, attached to the body of All-Star catcher Alex Avila, Weaver was tossed from the game.
At that point the expletives flowed from Weaver, along with spittle, aimed at the home plate umpire. One need not have been a lip reader to understand what was said.
By the time it was done, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was tossed too.
And all Justin Verlander did was take a no-hitter into the bottom of the eighth before, after fielding a bunt, he threw the ball away, leaving Erick Aybar at second with nobody out.
A ground ball out moved the runner to third and I wondered how many other pitchers had given up an unearned run in a no-hitter.
The next Angels batter hit a grounder to third. Don Kelly decided to come home with the ball to preserve the score, but the run scored when Verlander dropped the ball at home, leaving Peter Bourjos safe at second on the fielder’s choice.
The no-hit bid was still in order when Maicer Izturis broke it up with a single to drive in the second run of the inning.
That left Jose Valverde to close out the ninth.
Valverde is nothing if not colorful, with his fist pumps and one and two-step dances when he rings up a strikeout or a save. But as Dizzy Dean said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.” And all Valverde has done is go a perfect 27-for-27 in save situations this season, even if he is 2-3 in the won-loss columns.
I’ve never been an advocate for a batter admiring their home run or a pitcher showing his emotion in striking out a hitter, but it is part of the modern game.
As for Weaver, who, like his brother Jeff, has problems with his temper, he’ll likely be fined for cursing an umpire and he’ll be lucky if he doesn’t get a suspension for throwing at Avila.
A travesty, such a show of unsportsmanship.
Grow up, Jered. Act your age, not your ERA. You’re a Major Leaguer—act like one.