By Bryan Jeon
In a game that went from wild pitching to benches clearing, the Detroit Tigers (14-11) won behind Gary Sheffield‘s second homerun of the season, 8-4 Monday over the Baltimore Orioles (12-14).
In the third inning, Jeremy Bonderman (1-0) threw a fastball up and in on Miguel Tejada, who attempted to avoid being hit but broke his bat with an awkward swing and was easily thrown out from a short roller by catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Tejada had a few words to say to Bonderman while he was in the dugout, probably from being embarassed after getting out on a pitch that should have given him a free ticket to first base.
In the bottom half of the inning, Orioles pitcher Daniel Cabrera (1-3) plunked Gary Sheffield, who quietly walked to first. Yes, Cabrera had six walks and a wild pitch in five innings of work, but good sportsmanship by Sheffield not to retaliate physically in what was an obviously intentional beaning.
It would be the top of the fifth inning when Tejada would come back up to bat against Bonderman, who subsequently threw a pitch at Tejada’s ankles, as Tejada managed to get out of the way. Not pleased, Tejada took a step towards Bonderman and pointed his bat at him while Rodriguez and the umpires had to step between the two. Soon, both benches cleared and Sheffield and Cabrera had to be separated after Cabrera apparently said some stuff to Detroit manager Jim Leyland. No punches were thrown, no ejections were handed.
In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Sheffield was up and knew what had to be done not only for the game but for his team. With a 2-1 count and a runner on first, Sheffield took an absolute windup to launch Cabrera’s fastball into the seats to put the Tigers ahead for good, breaking a 3-3 tie. Despite being owned in the at-bat, Cabrera glared at Sheffield the entire time he trotted around the bases like a total sore loser. If he was so mad at him, he should’ve just thrown another fastball at him.
Those dirty players from the Dominican Republic – Tejada (1 for 3) and Cabrera (four earned runs off four hits and six walks in five innings for the loss). Bad guys never win and a resilient Sheffield (1 for 2 with 3 runs, homerun and two rbi) and innocent Bonderman (four earned runs off nine hits in five innings for the win) had the last laugh to take the first game of the three-game series.
Image courtesy of AP Photo.