Pat Light put a little too much loft into ball four while attempting to issue an intentional walk during the ninth inning Thursday afternoon at Target Field. The Twins reliever airmailed the pitch over catcher Juan Centeno’s head allowing a run to score and jumpstarting a six-run inning for Detroit.
The wild pitch successfully completed the intentional walk to Erick Aybar, but created more problems instead of limiting them. The pitch reportedly sailed about 10 feet over Centeno’s head and out of the camera shot from behind the mound.
Justin Upton scored and James McCann advanced to third on the play. Light was pulled from the game and the Twins lost 9-2.
According to CJ Nitkowski, the former pitcher and MLB analyst, Light’s blunder was the fifth time this season a pitchout has turned into a wild pitch or been hit. Nitkowski tweeted a highlight of the play and wrote “Don’t change this rule!!!!!”
ESPN reported earlier this year that MLB’s competition committee agreed to end the traditional practice of requiring a pitcher to throw four balls to issue an intentional walk. Instead, a team could just request an intentional walk and send the hitter to first base.
The change is intended to address concerns about the pace of play.
Baseball purists are campaigning for the rule to remain unchanged. One of the announcers calling Thursday afternoon's Twins game said “That is the very reason why a lot of managers do not want them to institute that new rule … they want the pitcher to execute it and Light could not execute it.”
One fan tweeted to MLB “This is why we must keep the 4-pitch IBB,” noting the value of baseball’s “Insane Quirks.”
New York Yankees’ Gary Sanchez is probably a fan of the four-pitch intentional walk. Earlier this month, Sanchez nearly homered after hitting at an attempted pitchout that drifted back over the plate.
The deep fly was caught at the wall for sacrifice fly.
"I knew they were going to walk me," Sanchez said, "but at the same time I wanted to be ready in case I could swing at the pitch, find something that I could drive. And hopefully score the run from third."
For how infrequent intentional walks are issued, the entertainment provided by these wild plays might be worth keeping the rule as it is. Watch the below highlights and let us know what you think.
Pat Light's blunder:
Gary Sanchez nearly homers on pitchout: