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Friday, November 28, 2014

Erick Aybar Bunted During Justin Verlander’s No-Hitter … So What

Baseball’s unwritten rules are about as important as RBIs and pitcher wins. They’re outdated and only hold limited significance. Those who value them cling to them with a kung-fu grip, failing to realize how arbitrary and sometimes pointless they are.

Justin Verlander apparently subscribes to them.

The Tigers pitcher was cruising yet again, going 7.2 innings of no-hit ball until Maicer Izturis broke it up with a line drive to left field. Four batters earlier, shortstop Erick Aybar got on base by dropping down a bunt Verlander threw into right field. Verlander was peeved that Aybar tried bunting to get aboard during his no-hitter. That violates one of the so-called “unwritten rules of the game.”

Jered Weaver, who was ejected for throwing at Alex Avila a batter after classless Carlos Guillen showed him up, summed up the Angels’ position perfectly. “We’re trying to score some runs off that guy and swinging obviously wasn’t doing it.”

Even Tigers manager Jim Leyland understood why Aybar bunted. He even agreed with the move. “I’ll be in the minority with the people that didn’t like that. I disagree with that totally. They’ve got a good team with a lot of speed. They’re trying to win a pennant, just like we are. I don’t have any problem with that play whatsoever.”

Verlander, while acknowledging there are two sides to the game, called Aybar’s actions “bush league.” Verlander may have been speaking out of anger because he didn’t get the no-hitter. He also was likely upset over the beef with Jered Weaver, not to mention Aybar supposedly elbowing him later in the inning.

I’m guessing Verlander would agree with the move if he were unbiased. In a 3-0 game you’re trying to score runs any way possible. If bunting gives you the best chance to get on, you do it. If the Angels were 20 games under .500 and losing 12-0, then I agree with Verlander. But they’re not. He’s wrong on this one.



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