The Birds’ lone representative in last night’s Major League Baseball All Star Game, catcher Matt Wieters, went…well, full on “Oriole” during his first appearance in the Midsummer Classic.
Entering the game in the bottom of the sixth, Wieters’ first inning behind the plate went off without a hitch as he caught Indians’ pitcher Chris Perez’s scoreless frame. In the bottom of the seventh, though, Wieters did something he hadn’t done all year to that point – allowed a passed ball.
In his defense, he was catching Seattle closer Brandon League, who was all over the place, missing nearly every target. It’s no picnic trying to catch a guy for the first time, especially someone as erratic as League. Still, all the other catchers in the game managed to backstop unfamiliar pitchers without committing any errors.
Wieters’ passed ball bounced off the umpire and made it all the way to the backstop, resulting in a two-base error as Hunter Pence advanced from first to third. A few pitches later, Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval smacked a ground-rule double, scoring Pence. Of course, had Pence still been at first, he would not have been allowed to score on the hit. Wieters’ error effectively allowed a run.
Those of us who like to look at the glass as half full posited that Wieters was actually tanking the All Star game, in an effort to keep the damn Red Sox or Yankees from having home field advantage in the World Series.
In which case, we say ATTA BOY MATTY!
Having watched Wieters play all year as I have, I also had a pretty good idea of what was likely to happen next, as Wieters was scheduled to lead off the top of the 8th inning for the AL:
Which, lo and behold, is exactly what transpired.
I don’t really mean to pick on Wieters here. Nerves were likely a factor as the youngster played in his first ever All Star Game, facing and catching completely unfamiliar pitchers. Hopefully Matt will have plenty of chances to redeem himself in future Midsummer Classics, and will do so and then some.
It’s just hilarious that the O’s only representative in the game played exactly like he was from a team that has lost 21 of its last 27 games.
Second half time.
This is Birdland.