Classic major league bad guy A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox made like all-time nice guy Forrest Gump on Sunday afternoon. When the Oakland Athletics forgot to cover third base and home plate on an infield grounder in the seventh inning, Pierzynski just kept running.
By including the amusing collision of third baseman Adam Rosales and shortstop Cliff Pennington that helped set off the confusion, this has to be one of the more embarrassing moments in A's history:
The official ruling: Alexei Ramirez grounds out 6-3, Pierzynski scores, all of the way from first base, on fielder's indifference. Indifference, eh? More like disappearance. TV cameras made it seem like the A's were playing with only six or seven fielders — which, they might as well have been on that play.
The White Sox won 7-3 behind left-hander Chris Sale, but the goof-up was indicative of the A's having a bad day.
So, catcher Derek Norris belatedly went to cover third base after he saw nobody else was, and pitcher Evan Scribner ... apparently tried to cover third, too? But also belatedly. Give an assist, or something, to first baseman Chris Carter for putting his head down. (Now put down your mitt and get to writing another X-Files screenplay!) The only A's infield person who gets a pass on this is second baseman Jemile Weeks.
A's manager Bob Melvin admitted via MLB.com that, no, that's not what they teach the players:
"Wasn't our best defensive day," Melvin said. "The play was embarrassing, obviously, when Pierzynski went all the way around. [Catcher] Norris is trying to cover third when the third baseman and shortstop converge, you either have to read that and get back or the pitcher has to rotate around and get home. We didn't cover that very well, so that doesn't sit very well with anybody."
Don't let this moment slip away without crediting Pierzynski, the Great Instigator. Other players might not have tried to score. Many certainly would have hesitated, possibly costing their side a run. Not A.J. He's too alert. But it's almost like he used a psychic trick to keep third and home uncovered. That stinker.
"You don't need to be at home plate. I'm not the baserunner you're looking for."
Mind tricks or not, Pierzynski retains his title as the official Thorn In The Side of MLB.