October 07, 2011
Detroit Tigers right-hander Joaquin Benoit(notes) managed what must have been an irritating experience during Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday night when umpire Ted Barrett made him remove a HUGE bandage from his left cheek before allowing him to throw a pitch.
In front of everybody!
Benoit later admitted his concentration might have been thrown off, but he and the Tigers escaped a major scoring threat with a one-run lead and went on to beat the New York Yankees 3-2 to advance to the ALCS.
All that TV viewers could see, after TBS returned from commercial with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, was Barrett engaging Benoit and first baseman Miguel Cabrera(notes) in an animated conversation near the mound.
"I'm not sure what this meeting is about," he said.
Then the camera angle switched so everyone could see the other side of Benoit's face.
"I GUESS IT'S ABOUT THE BAND-AID ON HIS FACE."
Soon, a Tigers trainer was at the mound, helping Benoit rip the HUGE bandage off his cheek, revealing a bloody wound that, Benoit later said, came from an ingrown hair. Too much information?
Ooh, that's gonna hurt. So, why would an umpire care about Benoit trying to stay hygienic on national television?
Because its lighter color clashed with Benoit's skin and, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, could have been a distraction to New York batters. (If you didn't think bandages could discriminate based on skin color, you'd be wrong. Wake up, America.)
Girardi later said he wasn't trying to get into Benoit's head, though earlier in the series the Tigers made Yankees pitcher Freddy Garcia(notes) remove a little wristband from his glove hand before he threw a pitch to start Game 2 of the series.
"Could be a little bit of gamesmanship here," Anderson said.
Poor Benoit, though. He probably was mortified already to be walking around with a HUGE bandage on his face, covering — for all we knew at the time — some kind of horrible blemish from who knows what. Not only was he pitching with the pressure of keeping the Tigers' season alive, he had to do it while everyone was looking at an awful, inflamed zit on his face.
Tough for anyone with a blemish.
But he managed. Curtis Granderson(notes) reached on a single to right, and Robinson Cano(notes) poked a grounder just out of Benoit's reach to load the bases. Benoit was masterful in getting Alex Rodriguez(notes) to whiff on a change-up, but he walked Mark Teixeira(notes) to force in a run, making it 3-2.
"Well, it was kind of tough because of kind of lost my concentration on a couple of pitches," Benoit said. "I walked him on a high fastball and, but after that, I was just trying to get one out at a time."
Benoit gathered his composure and struck out Nick Swisher(notes) to escape. Benoit — with everyone on the planet still looking at his facial wound — pitched an easy, scoreless eighth, setting up Jose Valverde(notes) for the save in the ninth.
Talk about stopping the bleeding. But what about Benoit's poor face?
He applied another HUGE bandage after the game was over.