If baseball were football, Minnesota Twins right-hander Samuel Deduno would have been charged with two false starts Monday night. Twice against the Tampa Bay Rays he started to deliver a pitch but stopped mid-windup and flipped the ball to himself instead. The second time, he flipped it high above his head and caught it a few steps off the mound, like a little kid might do walking home from a game.
Strange and funny.
Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven, himself a Hall of Fame pitcher, guessed that Deduno was slipping on the pitching rubber, or somehow losing his tread on the mound. Blyleven even spun it in Deduno's favor, giving him credit for flipping the ball to himself rather than throwing an unsecured pitch toward home plate. The video evidence was inconclusive.
Both times, James Loney of the Rays was at-bat — in the second and fourth innings — and Deduno was trying to deliver his first pitch of the frame. Neither time was Deduno charged with a balk — because nobody was on base — nor was he charged with a ball or even a pitch thrown. Loney could be seen asking the plate umpire a question about Deduno's aborted pitches, but no balls were put up on the scoreboard. Loney completed the first at-bat with a single, and he hit a double in the fourth, though neither hit figured in the scoring.
Deduno allowed five runs and 10 hits over six innings, one of his worst outings of the season. He's coming off a successful run at the World Baseball Classic pitching for the champion Dominican Republic team. He's got a 3.90 ERA in nine starts for the Twins, which is better than in recent seasons.
The Rays won 7-4, with Twins rookie Aaron Hicks falling short of the cycle by a home run.
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