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Another Balk-Off July 5, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Kansas City Royals pitcher Aaron Crow ended last night’s game against the Chicago White Sox in an unusual fashion – he balked in the winning run. As David Pinto at Baseball Musings notes, Crow was selected as an All Star this year. Counting last night’s game, he’s pitched 41 1/3 innings in 34 games, finishing 10 of them, with a 1.96 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 2.16 (41/19). It’s his first balk of the season.

Crow came in to start the eighth inning with the Royals leading 3-2. Crow opened by allowing Brent Morel to single, followed by a two-run homer to designated hitter Adam Dunn, dropping behind 4-3. Crow then hopped out of the inning with a pop fly to Paul Konerko, a strikeout to Carlos Quentin, a walk to Alexei Ramirez, and a groundout for Alexis Rios. During the top of the ninth, Eric Hosmer tied it, so when Crow came in for the bottom of the ninth, the score was tied 4-4.

A.J. Pierzynski singled to start the ninth for Ramon Castro, Gordon Beckham bunted him over to second, and he advanced to third on a wild pitch to Mark Teahen (who was pinch hitting for Brent Lillibridge). Teahen struck out, and Juan Pierre walked. Pierre took second on defensive indifference, and while Adam Dunn was at the plate, Crow balked by apparently stepping off the rubber after coming set. That brought Pierzynski home and, of no consequence, Pierre to third.

D.J. Carrasco, of course, balked in Diory Hernandez back on June 16th, with the last balk-off before that coming in May of last year.

At least when Carlos Marmol threw a wild pitch to bring home Jayson Werth, there was no question about what happened.


Quickie: Balk-Offs June 1, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Last night, Esmerling Vasquez took the loss in relief for Arizona against the Dodgers. In the bottom of the 9th inning with the score tied, Vasquez balked with a runner on third, bringing in the winning run.

Balks are fun. The rule is designed to keep the pitcher from “deceiving the baserunner,” but also serves to encourage good fundamentals in young pitchers at the lower levels of play. For example, it’s a balk to even accidentally drop the ball.

Walk-off balks (balk-offs) are fairly rare. It’s not surprising that Vasquez, a sophomore in MLB, was fooled by Casey Blake, because balks can result from inexperience, and it’s fairly rare to have an inexperienced pitcher throwing the bottom of the 9th inning in a tied game. I ran a search on Baseball-Reference.com for losing pitchers with at least one balk who finished the game for the visiting team, which are necessary conditions (but not sufficient) to find a balk-off. After wading through the game logs, I found that the most recent balk-off was almost two years ago, when Colorado visited Atlanta in September of 2008. Taylor Buchholz balked in Kelly Johnson to take the loss.

Buchholz was in his third (and so far final) major-league season and is best known for having allegedly failed a trade physical when Houston tried to trade him to the White Sox. He’s still with Colorado and currently on the 60-day DL for Tommy John surgery.