Friday the 13th yields its share of oddities
By Zack Meisel / MLB.com | 04/14/12 12:30 AM ET
Giants right-hander Matt Cain probably didn't walk under a ladder before one-hitting the Pirates. The Rays needed more than a black cat to spoil Boston's 12-run, 16-hit attack.
There were plenty of quirky sequences around the league, however, that fittingly fell on Friday the 13th, a day affiliated with luck, superstition and unconventionality.
Friday the 13th is typically considered to be a day on which bad luck rears its ugly head. Oddly enough, Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach enjoyed good fortune on Friday when he recorded the first stolen base of his eight-year career in Boston's 12-2 win.
On a delayed steal in the sixth inning, Rays backstop Jose Molina was preoccupied with a runner on third base, and fired late in an attempt to retire the 31-year-old, lead-footed catcher. Somehow, Shoppach miraculously avoided broken ribs, despite belly flopping onto second base.
Shoppach broke into his slide toward the bag too early, then popped back up with room to spare before safely reaching his destination. With his momentum carrying him forward, he attempted a head-first dive into the base, but instead just plopped onto the white square, face- and chest-first.
"I think we have to get it on the highlight reel," Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine said. "That will be good for a rainy day, that's for sure."
Elsewhere in peculiar Friday the 13th occurrences, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera asked the White Sox grounds crew to redraw the batter's box during the first inning of Chicago's 5-2 win. Before digging in against White Sox hurler Jake Peavy, Cabrera noticed that the box didn't extend far enough back.
Crew chief Gary Cederstrom sided with Cabrera and summoned the grounds crew to rechalk the lines. According to diagrams in the Major League Baseball rulebook, the batter's box must be four feet wide and six feet deep, extending three feet each way from the midpoint of home plate.
The box maintained the right dimensions, but was not properly centered about home plate.
"The lines should've been back farther," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The batter's box was fine, but they had it moved up too far. It wasn't aligned with the plate and everything the way it was set up, so they just changed it."
White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said he had never seen such a scenario unfold.
"I've heard guys complain about the box before," he said, "but I've never seen them redo a box during a game."
Perhaps the strangest play of the day came during the Mets' 5-2 victory against the Phillies. Following catcher Josh Thole's one-out single in the second inning, pitcher R.A. Dickey advanced him to second base with a successful bunt.
First baseman Jim Thome tagged out Dickey halfway up the first-base line and tossed the ball to pitcher Cliff Lee. As Lee strode back to the mound, he noticed Thole nonchalantly retreating to first and fired to shortstop Jimmy Rollins. As Thole began to sprint toward the bag, Rollins relayed the ball to Freddy Galvis, who applied the tag for the out.
"The video is incredible," Thole said, laughing. "I don't know what I was thinking."
Despite completing the bizarre double play, the Phillies were just as confused.
"I don't know what happened," Lee said. "I just heard [Rollins] yell for the ball, [so I] threw it to him and got him out. I really don't know what happened there. Any time they get out, I'm happy about it, no matter how it happens."
Thole's baserunning blunder capped an odd day around the league.
"I wasn't even looking until I saw him come running back to first," Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel said. "I thought, 'What in the world is he doing?' Then I saw him get tagged out. And I kind of thought, 'Well, maybe he'd rather be on first than on second.' Whatever."