Wild pitch becomes a wild play at Coors Field
Three runs score for Brewers on wacky, bases-loaded scramble in Denver
DENVER -- A couple of Rockies defenders either weren't paying attention or weren't in the optimum place. One key defender was in the right place, but for a brief moment had no idea where he was.
It all added up to the sloppiest play of the Rockies' season. Three Brewers runs scored on one wild pitch from Rockies left-hander Christian Friedrich in the third inning of a 9-4 Milwaukee win at Coors Field on Saturday afternoon.
"We got taken advantage of on that play," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
In the box score, it was a bases-loaded wild pitch charged to Friedrich, a throwing error charged to catcher Michael McKenry -- who was dizzy from whiplash on the pitch, and knocked the wind out of himself after he chased the ball and made a wild throw -- and, for lack of a better statistical explanation, a fielder's choice that let the third run score. In this multiple-choice instance, not paying attention and not covering bases generally are wrong answers.
Here's how it occurred:
One run had already scored in the inning to give the Brewers a 5-2 lead when Friedrich, who had his second inning marred by four runs with three errors, intentionally walked Jean Segura to load the bases for Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta.
With the count 1-2, McKenry called for a curveball. Friedrich, in his 2014 debut and his first Major League game since suffering a back injury in 2012, fired a high fastball.
"And obviously I saw him duck because he was expecting the curveball," Friedrich said.
McKenry shot his glove upward in time to deflect the ball and possibly save plate umpire Adam Hamari from injury. But McKenry chased the ball down on the first-base side and his throw to the plate was far in front of Friedrich, who was covering as Khris Davis slid home. Then again, McKenry might not have been in condition to make a good throw.
"I got the wind totally knocked out of me and I kind of gave myself whiplash beforehand," McKenry said. "I was just kind of in la-la land at that moment."
Friedrich and third baseman Josh Rutledge chased the ball down near the Brewers' dugout on the third-base side as Mark Reynolds scored.
By this time, Segura was on his way to an uncovered third base.
Friedrich beat Rutledge to the ball and began walking toward home plate. Segura, noticing that no one was covering third, no Rockies player had requested timeout and Friedrich walking with the ball with his head down, started creeping toward home plate. Then he took off running.
Asked if he'd fallen asleep on the job, Friedrich said, "No, I'm staring at home. It doesn't look like it, but I know Jean's over at third or rounding third. He wasn't even at third. I had the ball and he was halfway to third
"I'd already looked at third and I'm walking toward the plate. You see him out of the corner of your eye and it was a good heads-up play by him, he took a gamble and it paid off."
The confluence of crazy stuff was a new one for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
"It was just one of those bizarre plays, obviously," Tulowtizki said. "Mac was banged up a little bit and Friedrich fell asleep a little bit, I guess, and aggressive baserunning by Segura. It was an unfortunate play, and it ended up hurting us."
But one reason Segura was able to creep homeward and assess whether to go was Tulowitzki, the most likely candidate to cover third, was in front of his original position, walking toward the mound.
"I'm coming up yelling the whole time," Tulowitzki said. "Right there, I guess I could be over at third, but at the same time I'm screaming. We can't fall asleep right there."
The final ill-fated decision was Friedrich tried to beat Segura to the plate rather than pitch the ball to McKenry, who was at the plate. Then again, given McKenry's condition, that might have been Friedrich's best option.
"Honestly, I had no clue where I was in general," McKenry said. "Tulo was right there [actually, it was first baseman Justin Morneau], Friedrich was right there. Honestly, I was trying to keep my balance."
It gave the Brewers an 8-2 lead. Friedrich actually pitched competitively, with just four of the nine runs the Brewers scored in six innings being earned. But the Rockies never recovered from the sloppiness.
The most comparable play occurred on April 14, when the Padres scored the tying and winning runs in the eighth inning of a 5-4 decision. Rex Brothers threw a wild pitch for one run, and the other scored when catcher Willin Rosario threw wildly to the plate. But Saturday's play had an element of inattention not often seen in the Majors.
Asked if he'd ever seen three runs score on a wild pitch, Weiss said, "I don't think so. I'm not sure. It's been awhile if I have. I can't remember."
He might not want to remember, although the boos of the Coors Field fans may stamp it on the memories of all in Rockies uniforms.
But Segura had a different viewpont.
"It was so funny," Segura said. "And at the same time it was a good moment for us."
The last time three runs scored on a play that began with a wild pitch was June 29, 2001, when the A's Mike Magnante threw wildly and catcher Ramon Hernandez compounded the damage with a throwing error as the Rangers' Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra and Gabe Kapler all crossed home.