The Detroit Tigers played the Tampa Bay Rays in an exhibition game that included some unusual plays. It was April Fools Day, but these events really did happen. No foolin’ today at Joker Marchant.
One of the oddest events was with Miguel Cabrera‘s first at-bat. The Big Man smacked the ball to the shortstop Tim Beckham. In typical Cabrera style, the ball was hit rather hard giving Beckham slightly more than a routine play. He fielded it cleanly, but his throw to first was anything but. So, as Cabrera took his time getting to first, he managed to be safe after the ball went through the glove of Logan Morrison.
Seeing Miggy get on base with an infield “hit” (that was really an error) is a sight to see simply because it does not happen often. An error from short to first is also a rarity. But, the craziness did not stop there. Miggy stole second.
Here’s how that oddity happened: With Miggy safely on first, Victor Martinez went to bat facing the left-handed pitcher Matt Moore. During the at-bat, Moore threw a wild pitch that got past the catcher, Hank Conger. It got far enough away that Cabrera could get to second safely.
The other unexpected events involved Anibal Sanchez. Prior to his start today, he had a successful outing on March 21, allowing no hits. So, fans like me were expecting something similar. Oh no, not today. The Rays had Sanchez’s number and they found a way to get on base again and again and again. It was like an evil flashback to the batting practices he pitched against Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and the White Sox in 2015. In four combined games against these four teams last season, he allowed 12 home runs. Ouch.
Steve Pearce had the biggest hit against Sanchez in the second inning. It was a massive home run that landed near the top of the berm in left center. This home run scored three runs, but it was the only time the Rays had a lead in the game.
Then, the Tigers took over and they never looked back. In the second inning, J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos both reach on walks. With James McCann up, everyone expected a home run. Nope…strike out. Then, Jose Iglesias did the same. That left it up to the number nine batter – Anthony Gose. He put the smackdown on the ball – sending it to the berm, too.
The Tigers continued their hitting and walking spree. In the fourth inning, Castellanos hit a home run – also to the berm in left center. Then, McCann, Iglesias, and Gose get on base. Instead of knocking them in on a big hit, Ian Kinsler gets walked, scoring McCann. Then, Upton gets hit single to score Iglesias and Gose. Then, V-Mart singles so Kinsler can score.
The walks from Jhan Marinez and Moore cost the Rays several runs.
But the strangest event of the day was yet to come. Since the Tigers have cleared away many of the minor leaguers that were on the 40-man roster, the Tigers actually ran out of batters today. To get a left-handed batter to the plate, Brad Ausmus sent Kyle Ryan with the explicit instructions to just stand there – even though Ryan was filling in for V-Mart at DH. Expecting to get struck out, everyone in the park was shocked when Ryan was walked. He did not score a run, but made it to third base on a hit by Andrew Romine.
The other shocker involved the performance of Buck Farmer. After a few impressive innings in his last few appearances, it is actually possible to say that Farmer is developing some consistency. The young pitcher actually has a small ERA of 2.25 in his 12 innings of pitching in spring training. Stranger things have happened.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Baseball is NOT boring. You just never know what’s going to happen. And, one more thing – beware of the bird living atop the left-field light post – especially when the wind is blowing toward the berm.
Check out more musing on the Detroit Tigers at Motor City Bengals.