Justin Verlander was his dominant self on Friday night going six innings with five strikeouts and no runs allowed while taking a no-hitter into the fifth frame of 10-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Still, he found a reason to leave the field feeling slighted and disrespected. Naturally we’re talking about the unwritten rules of baseball here, because what else could anger such an established pitcher in an otherwise perfect performance?
The alleged culprit here is Chicago’s Tim Anderson. The crime: attempting to steal second on a 3-0 count in a 5-0 game in the fifth inning.
Oh yes, it’s about to get silly.
Anderson had just broken up Verlander’s no-hit bid with a ground ball to left field when he turned toward his dugout and celebrated upon reaching first — you know, the type of thing every major league player tends to do now after getting a hit. This might not have set Verlander off, but it certainly got things started.
When the next batter, Omar Narvaez, stepped to the plate, Verlander struggled to regain his rhythm and tossed three straight balls. Anderson, who is 8-for-8 in stolen bases to start the year, took off on the next pitch. That apparently was too much for the Astros’ ace.
“That’s probably not great baseball,” Verlander told the Houston Chronicle. “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. But he celebrated that, though. And it’s like ‘Hey, I’m not worried about you right now. It’s 5-0, I’m giving a high leg kick, I know you can steal. If I don’t want you to steal, I’ll be a little bit more aware of you. But I’m trying to get this guy out at the plate.'”
It didn’t end there.
The Sox attempted a double steal later in the inning with Anderson on second and Narvaez on first but ran into an out when both runners bolted towards second. Verlander, still aggrieved, began shouting with Anderson.
Verlander said he simply thanked Anderson for the easy out, which was returned with a few expletives.
“I could care less,” Anderson said to the Chronicle. ” I’m out just playing and having fun. If he took it to heart, so what?”
So what, indeed. Even by the standards of unwritten rules, this seems pretty lame. And if Verlander knew Anderson was a threat to steal second in the first place, why did he care when Anderson went for it?
It might’ve been 5-0, Astros, but there was still nearly half the game left to play. Of course a young, developing Chicago team is going to take every opportunity to make something happen.
The whole situation is laughable. Unless you’re Anderson and Verlander, in which case neither will likely forget this ~ egregious ~ incident.
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