Baseball, perhaps more than any other professional sport, is a game of unwritten rules. From how you take the field, to how you take in a home run, to how you might “accidentally” take out an opposing player, America’s pastime seemingly has an unwritten rule to go along with every one etched in black and white in the official MLB rulebook. Violating those rules can often have direct or indirect consequences – sometimes meted out by players themselves, other times by the baseball gods that rule the game in sometimes eerie ways. The will of those invisible gods was seemingly in full force during the Colorado Rockies’ two-game series with the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson found himself in the headlines on Thursday morning following his 4-2 loss to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, but not for the four runs he allowed and the throwing error he committed in the defeat. No, Anderson was a topic of conversation because of the way he warmed up. It seems Kershaw wasn’t pleased with the fact that Anderson took a late stroll into the dugout from the Colorado bullpen, delaying the first pitch of the game by a few seconds.
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Kershaw was on the mound ready to pitch, but was forced to step off and wait for Anderson to make his way into the Colorado dugout before play could begin.
Kershaw called the move “one of the more disrespectful things I’ve been a part of in a game.” He responded by striking out 10 Rockies, including Anderson, in a seven-inning effort to earn his third win of the year and end a three-game Dodgers losing skid.
Anderson, meanwhile, gave up six hits and a walk over five innings. His throwing error in the fifth inning contributed to three Dodgers runs. On the play, Anderson fielded a bunt with a chance to throw out a lead runner at third base, but buckled and instead tried to get the batter at first. In doing so, he skipped the throw to DJ LeMahieu and everyone was safe.
It was a tough play, no doubt, but not necessarily surprising that Anderson found himself on the wrong end of a bad break after committing a perceived faux pas against Kershaw earlier in the game. Purists will say it was the baseball gods exacting their revenge on the young lefty, Anderson.
In the same way that the baseball gods dole out discipline for breaking the game’s unwritten rules, they also seem to have an uncanny knack for leveling the playing field. Such was the case between the Rockies and Dodgers, when each club lost a key player to almost identical injuries.
On Tuesday night Dodgers slugger Justin Turner took a Kyle Freeland fastball off his left hand. He remained in the game, which the Dodgers lost 4-3, but was unavailable to play on Wednesday as he took time to recover from the injury he sustained. X-rays were negative for Turner, but the Dodgers were without one of their biggest bats as they tried to avoid the mini-sweep the following night.
And as Colorado tried to take a fourth game from the Dodgers (the Rockies are now 3-2 vs. L.A. this year) here in the early part of the season, one of their own sluggers suffered an almost identical injury. In the fourth inning on Wednesday, Kershaw busted Carlos Gonzalez up and in with a fastball, which the Rockies right fielder took off his right hand. He was forced to leave the game immediately. X-rays were also negative for Gonzalez, and he will be reevaluated on the team’s off day on Thursday.
Certainly neither pitch was intentional. (Another of baseball’s unwritten rules is “you hit one of our big guns, expect retribution.”) But it’s quite amazing how the baseball gods balanced the equation on consecutive nights by sending a scare to each team via a pair of their most-important hitters.
The Rockies have certainly taken their lumps from the baseball gods in the early part of 2017. They lost Ian Desmond (hand), David Dahl (rib) and Chad Bettis (cancer) – all who were supposed to be major contributors this season – to open the year. Still, Mark Reynolds, Gerardo Parra and Antonio Senzatela have shined in their absence and the Rockies sit tied atop the NL West at 10-6.
The baseball gods are a fickle, but fair, bunch. That’s certainly been the case this year and it was on display in full force in Los Angeles.