I always maintain that a pitcher has the God given right to throw inside. The great ones–Ryan, Clemens, Martinez, Maddux, Johnson–always controlled 100% of the strike zone, no matter what the count and what the situation. I also understand that pitchers need to protect hitters. You can’t have your start player up there wondering if he’s going to get plunked every time.
The mistake that Porcello made last night was that he missed Victor Martinez. If he had hit him, I don’t think he would have buried one in Youkilis’s back an inning later.
I don’t know if Porcello received an order from veteran manager Leyland or if, after Cabrera left with an injury, Porcello felt that a close shave wasn’t enough justice. My feeling is that, given rising tensions and the fact that Tazawa’s pitch didn’t seem intentional (in fact, Cabrera in part swung into it), Leyland wouldn’t have called for a hit.
If Martinez gets plunked, there’s likely a few words and an uncomfortable moment. But to clearly, without question, drill Youk the next inning was unacceptable.
We’ll likely lose Youkilis for a few games now (I’m guessing 4). Lowell will have a chance at more heroics. I hope that last night’s intensity carries over for those games without Youk–since you can make a strong argument that no single hitter has meant more to a team this season (key: one of those arguments circling the real definition of MVP). The Sox lineup has been woefully underproductive or streaky this season–the fall of Papi, the disappearance of Jason Bay, the hip of Lowell, the sub-par slugging of Pedroia, etc. The one constant this year for the Sox has been Youkilis, whose worst month still shows an OPS of .822 with 15 RBIs and 16 RS. We’ll miss him, but hopefully that’s the tackle that gets the ball rolling