|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Shin-Soo Choo||.525||Fausto Carmona||-.215|
|Ryan Garko||.186||Travis Hafner||-.119|
|Grady Sizemore||.161||Jhonny Peralta||-.096|
So here you had two teams playing out the string on a disappointing season, and lo, two-thirds of the way through the game a memorable contest broke out.
Gary Sheffield bears all the credit for starting the excitement. After he was hit by a Carmona pitch in the seventh, he stared at Carmona all the way to first, his bat still in hand. Carmona ratcheted things up by throwing to first, and Sheffield charged the mound. Fausto didn't back down, put Sheffield in a headlock, and got several blows in before being separated.
The Tigers pulled ahead 5-2 in the eighth, but the Detroit bullpen let the Indians back into it in the bottom of the inning. The critical mistake was walking Ben Francisco with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate in Shin-Soo Choo. Choo may have been the matchup on paper for left-hander Casey Fossum, but not if you take into account how well Choo is playing. He's hitting .344/.423/.639 since the All-Star Break, and a very good .853 OPS against left-handers. So when Fossum hung a breaking ball inside to Choo, he didn't miss it, tying the game with a three-run homer to right-center.
One inning later, the Indians finished off the Tigers. Kelly Shoppach was hit by a pitch to open the inning. After Travis Hafner struck out swinging at high fastballs, Ryan Garko singled to right field, chasing pinch-runner Josh Barfield to third. Jamey Carroll then "singled" over the head of a drawn-in Magglio Ordonez to drive in the winning run and cap a game that had no business taking place between two also-rans in the last two weeks of the season.
Of course. Sheffield was his typical self after the game:
"This is the third time," Sheffield said, though it wasn't immediately apparent what the third might be. "Like I said, three strikes, you're out. And if there's a fourth, it gets more violent, trust me."
For the record, Carmona has hit Sheffield twice this season. And I doubt either was intentional.
"He called me out," Sheffield said. "If you call me out, I answer the call."
Sure, Gary. You may not have placed the call, but you picked up the phone on the first ring.
Sheffield was particularly upset at Martinez, whose act, Sheffield said, "is tired."
"All this macho stuff -- throwing the equipment off," Sheffield said. "Trust me, you don't want any of me."
Given what actually happened on the mound last night, he probably doesn't want any more of Carmona. And it's pretty humorous that Sheffield would critcize anyone in baseball for "macho stuff," for he was the one who stared at Carmona, carried his bat to first, and charged the mound.
Sheffield didn't direct his anger just at Martinez.
"I saw the tape," he said. "I know who they are and I guarantee you they'll have to deal with me."
The sooner the better, because given the way his career is going, he probably won't have a lot of chances left to get even.