Let’s get one thing straight: Delmon Young running into A.J. Pierzynski wasn’t Torii Hunter destroying Jamie Burke.
Young might have tried to make a statement when he opted to run into Pierzynski instead of attempting a clever slide on Tuesday night. The latter was an option, since Gordon Beckham’s throw was high, and Pierzynski wasn’t blocking the plate, but maybe he couldn’t see that route. Either way, it’s immaterial. Pierzynski held on, and didn’t even fall down. A key insurance run didn’t score, and that became huge when Pierzynski singled to put the eventual go-ahead run into scoring position.
Whether Young was trying to do something more than score, Pierzynski got the upper hand. But a lot of people are going to make a lot out of it, including Ozzie Guillen and Joe Cowley:
”It kind of seemed [dirty], but I like when baseball is aggressive. If anyone has a problem with that, there’s still a way they can resolve their problems. That’s not the manager’s job to get in the way. If somebody in the clubhouse don’t like the way he did it, that’s easy. Resolve that problem before he hits the home run or the base hit [in the 10th].”
Pierzynski took the high road in describing the play.
”It was play at the plate, things happen and you move on,” Pierzynski said. ”It was his only chance and he did what he thought he needed to do.”
It seems like the Twins have the final word in everything these days.
There’s a problem with chalking everything up to not pushing back. Take John Danks. He could have drilled Orlando Hudson after his homer, as the Twins looked exceedingly comfortable against him in the first. Yet it probably wouldn’t have helped considering his struggles to retire the side in order. It may have been a choice between earning “man points” and lasting seven innings. If so, he chose wisely.
At the same time, the Sox didn’t hit a batter. They haven’t in their last 11 games, and in that span, Ozzie Guillen has said his players need protection, and even bullpen coach Juan Nieves sounded a battle cry:
“There’s nothing that would please me more than having a brawl with them and kicking their rear,” Nieves said. “I’ve even thought of telling guys, ‘Hey [Matt] Thornton, smoke [Joe] Mauer, see if you can start a fight. We’re not afraid of anybody.”
And what happens in the opener? Danks gets (temporarily) rocked, Pierzynski gets plowed over, and on the other side, Mark Kotsay playfully pushes Orlando Hudson after grounding out with the bases loaded.
I don’t really care about whether messages are sent or received. I do care about evening the score, and the Sox did a great job of that until Matt Thornton threw two poorly located fastballs to Thome (more on that in a bit). They could easily play the role of even-keeled professionals if they let their actions do the talking.
But when they announce intentions and then play another while losing to a team that is engaging in their own tactics, it certainly looks like the Sox are getting pushed around, physically and metaphorically.
But hey, at least this Young storyline is a nice smokescreen to obscure the increasingly indefensible and harmful decision to let Thome join the Twins. Thome is now 12-for-31 against the White Sox with two doubles, two homers and 1.144 OPS. Better yet, he was a well-executed relay away from another crushing late-inning hit earlier this year.
Oh, and he’s the most responsible for the last two games gained, since he hit a three-run homer in a 4-2 victory against Oakland on Monday. I’d like to stop talking about this, but he and the Sox aren’t letting me, so I’m working on something to make these discussions simpler and shorter from here on out.