The Rays-Nationals game on Tuesday, June 19th will forever be known as the “Glove Check Game.” What a crazy night it was.
Chien-Ming Wang had nothing. The Rays got him for 3 straight singles in the first for a run and 2 innings later, Carlos Pena hit a long 2-run shot off of Wang, his first homer since May 30th, and a 2-out, 2-run triple from Elliot Johnson. Wang lasted just 3.1 innings allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, striking out just 1 while walking 3. The Rays should have maybe even gotten him for more, grounding into a first inning double play and stranded 3 runners, but they got enough runs to win this game.
David Price was certainly not dominant, but he battled to give the Rays a solid outing. He allowed a run on a Carlos Pena error in the first inning when Will Rhymes threw the ball into the dirt and Pena couldn’t come up with it, and then Ian Desmond drilled a second inning solo homer to give the Nats a 2-1 lead. The Rays gave Price a boost in the third inning and he managed to get double plays to get out of the third and fourth innings. But Price left a fastball right down the middle against Mike Morse in the 6th inning, and Morse drilled an opposite-field 2-run shot to pull the Nationals within 5-4. Price lasted 7 innings allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. The two home runs burned him, but the Rays got him the run support he needed and he was fine otherwise.
Other big news was that in the fourth inning, Matthew Joyce left the game with an apparent back injury. After all the injuries the Rays have gone through, they have to hope that he’s OK.
The first 7 innings of this game were interesting but unspectacular. The 8th inning made this game one that will be remembered for a long time. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Joel Peralta entered the game to relieve Price. But before he could throw a pitch, Nationals manager trotted out onto the field to talk with the umpires. He asked crew chief Tim Tschida to go out to the mound to check out Peralta’s glove. The umpire looked at the glove and subsequently took it away to have a look at it back in the clubhouse. The umpires came back out, made it clear that Peralta had some “foreign substance” on his glove, and ejected Peralta from the game. On his way out, Peralta nodded his head to the Nationals dugout. Jake McGee entered the game and tossed a 1-2-3 inning with help from two outstanding defensive displays from Drew Sutton at second base, and Fernando Rodney tossed a perfect 9th for the save as the Rays won 5-4. Price improved to 9-4, Wang fell to 2-3, and Rodney earned his 20th save. But that all was overshadowed by the Peralta incident.
The thing to remember that Peralta pitched for the Nationals back in 2010. After the game during interviews with Sun Sports and 620 WDAE, Carlos Pena talked about the fact that Peralta had been betrayed by his ex-teammates. Peralta himself then said that he didn’t care because the Rays won the game. And Joe Maddon regarded the maneuver by Davey Johnson and the Nationals as a “bush league” and even a “pussy” move. Considering Peralta didn’t even throw a pitch in the game, it was clearly something based on prior knowledge. It was hypocritical for the Nationals to call out something that they given a blind eye to in the past. And it’s not as though Peralta had done anything so extraordinary. He hadn’t even thrown a pitch yet! People talked about what the Nationals did as “gamesmanship.” If it was truly gamesmanship, they would have waited until it truly gave them an advantage. Davey Johnson acted although he was taking a moral stance on the issue.
The Nationals had already sent up infielder Steve Lombardozzi to pinch-hit before Johnson approached the umpires. Do you know what’s funny? Thus far in 2012, Lombardozzi, a switch-hitter, has a .296 average and a .729 OPS versus righties compared to just .125 with a .389 OPS versus lefties. Johnson was saying that under no circumstances is it OK for a pitcher to use any substance on his glove to gain any type of real or perceived advantage and he was willing to face a disadvantage in the game to accomplish that. But the Nationals themselves had allowed Peralta to do the same exact thing while he was on their ballclub! How could Johnson implicate his own ballclub? Johnson was vilifying Peralta while ignoring the instantaneous attack he had started on his own team. He crossed the line. It wasn’t gamesmanship and it wasn’t taking a moral stance. It was an unsolicited attack on Joel Peralta. You just can’t do that. Hate the principle all you want. Do everything you can to win games. But don’t lose all professionalism and attack an individual player. It was ridiculous and uncalled for. What the heck was that?