One night after Chicago White Sox DH Yermin Mercedes homered on a 3-0 pitch from a position player with his team leading by 11 runs, the Minnesota Twins appeared to retaliate.
In the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game, an eventual 5-4 Minnesota win, Twins reliever Tyler Duffey threw behind Mercedes, which led to the ejections of Duffey and his manager, Rocco Baldelli, who was thrown out after arguing. Here’s a look:
And by way of reminder, here’s the home run from Monday that touched off the controversy:
In essence, this is all about Mercedes somehow making a “mockery” of a game that involved a position player throwing a 48 mph pitch.
Layered beneath what you see above are the pre-game comments of White Sox manager Tony La Russa. La Russa on Tuesday harshly criticized Mercedes for swinging away on 3-0 and suggested that the rookie ignored a take sign. The extent to which La Russa threw his best hitter to date under the bus was as striking as it was bizarre, and in a real sense the manager have tacit approval for the apparent retaliation you saw above.
Speaking of which:
So, yes, that’s a manager saying he has no issue with an opposing team throwing at, or at least behind, his star rookie. Of note this is the exchange between Mercedes and shortstop Tim Anderson prior to Tuesday’s game:
Also of note:
Given that La Russa was such an odd and forced fit for an ascendant young team long on personality and style and given some of his tactial missteps to date, you have to wonder if he’s in danger of at least starting to lose the clubhouse after turning on his own player in public.
As for the Mercedes homer and the Twins’ response to it, one hopes this puts an end to the entire ridiculous episode, in which two grown adult major league managers were mad because a hitter did what the term hitter says he should do.
Lost in all the drama is that Twins first baseman Miguel Sanó in this one homered three times to give him six on the season.