Next time, Dellin, plunk the runner in his back.
I say this not with any maliciousness towards the Astros, who have now beaten the Yankees in back to back games. Nor with any bitterness that the New York Yankees dropped their home opener, largely due to a call that everyone, from manager Joe Girardi to the fans (who chanted his name on a bitterly cold Opening Day while he protested vociferously) questioned immediately.
Instead, I say it with the even handedness and cold eyed rationality that is, apparently, required in such a situation. Based on the umpires' reaction and what Girardi said in the post game press conference seen on YES, if the ball had hit the runner, he would have been out.
To review the play, with a runner on 2B and one out, Carlos Correa, the Houston Astros star shortshop, swung weakly at a Dellin Betances offering. The ball traveled a short distance down the 1B line and the race was on. Betances sprang off the mound while Correa raced down the inside of the 1B line. Betances, trying to get the out, lobbed the ball over Correa’s head and over Mark Teixeira’s head.
Altuve raced home with the go ahead run and Girardi raced out of the dugout. Although the Yankees manager made his point well (in my opinion) it was all to no avail. The umpires upheld the call and the Yankees went on to lose the home opener 5-3 with Betances taking the loss. The game is currently under protest so there’s still a chance, however slim, that the Yankees will get some justice. It’s not likely though.
Now, to be honest, it was a bad throw by Betances and the third year player should have pulled himself together after the play and settled in but it’s fair that he was rattled by the bad (in my opinion) call.
Betances’s only options were to execute the play he did, trying to get the ball over the runner, or throw a strike to 1B, pretending the runner isn’t there knowing full well that the runner would get hit by the pitch. That’s not an easy choice.
In the same post-game interview Girardi said he doesn’t want to tell his pitchers to hit batters. Well, guess what Joe? That’s exactly what you need to tell them. Not to rear back and throw triple digit heat into someone’s back but a light throw to prove the interference and get the out.
I generally abhor hitting people intentionally, including and especially in retaliation for some perceived slight, so I don’t advocate this move lightly. Nevertheless, if it’s going to cost the Yankees games, it needs to be an option. At least until MLB adds some clarity and common sense to the rule.
For now, Betances and Yankees will have to live with the loss and the lesson learned. Going forward, though, consider the options.