How many times have you watched a manager hold up four fingers, signalling an intentional walk, and wondered why they bother throwing the pitches? Why not just send the hitter to first base, thus saving time and speeding up the game?
We take you to Sunday night at Safeco Field in Seattle with the Mariners playing the Florida Marlins.
It was the top of the 10th inning and the Mariners — yes, the Mariners — were hitting with the teams tied 1-1. (It was a Florida home game, the third game in a three-game series that had been moved to Seattle because U2 had the Marlins’ home stadium booked.)
Seattle second baseman Dustin Ackley led off with a double and moved to third on a flyball to left centre off the bat of catcher Miguel Olivo.
Florida manager Jack McKeon then signalled for an intentional walk to left-fielder Carlos Peguero. Right-hander Steve Cishek, who has a funky delivery, was doing just that when, on a 2-0 count, he threw a pitch that flew past catcher John Buck. Ackley scored on the wild pitch and the Mariners went on to win, 2-1.
Here’s a paragraph from the story filed by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times:
“Cishek told reporters after the game that he had the same thing happen to him once, in Class A ball. His manager, 80-year-old Jack McKeon, said he had only seen it happen on television and never in a game he's been involved in during five decades of professional baseball.”
To make the whole scenario even stranger, Cishek then pitched to Peguero, from the 3-0 count, and struck him out.
It was the Marlins’ 22nd loss in June.
Afterwards, Buck told the Miami Herald: "There can't be too many other ways (to lose), right? We got that one crossed off the list, so hopefully that'll be it."
And now you know why the intentional walk never will be turned into an automatic walk to first base. It may only happen once in a blue moon but, hey, it happened.
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