Yu Darvish was not at his best last night. The way he described it to The Athletic, “I was terrible today. I (had) nothing, absolutely nothing. I can’t believe I threw seven innings today and we won.”
I’ll certainly take Yu Darvish’s word on what he did or didn’t have, though he did still manage to go 7.0 innings, allowing only 3 earned runs on 9 hits, 1 walk, and 7 strikeouts. That’s still a pretty good result for having nothing!
… and I think he should’ve been credited with an even better night.
After a leadoff double in Cleveland’s half of the third inning, Josh Naylor led off with a double, and Delino Deshields Jr. followed with a great bunt, on which he reached first base safely. Naylor scored on a Kris Bryant throwing error, Deshields went to third, and later scored on Francisco Lindor double. Two of Darvish’s three earned runs on the night, there in the third.
But that Deshields bunt was not originally called a hit. Instead, because of the errant throw, it was initially scored an error:
On replay, you could tell a few things: (1) that was a very tough play for Bryant, (2) he didn’t get much help from Jason Kipnis at first base, and (3) an on-target throw gets Deshields by a tick.
Still, the play was further evaluated by the scorekeeper, apparently, and later changed to a hit. In isolation, I wouldn’t make a stink about it, and even now, I’ll admit openly that it is, at best, a 50/50 call. You say it’s a hit? OK. Fine. Bryant gets the error on the advance, only, and Deshields gets a hit.
But the rub is that it made Deshields’ later run an earned run for Yu Darvish, whose ERA now stands at 2.00 instead of what it would have been: 1.86. (SEE HAPPY UPDATE BELOW)
He still leads the National League in WAR, but when it comes to the very rapidly approaching end of the season and the Cy Young vote, being at 2.00 instead of 1.86 in ERA feels like a pretty huge difference with this group:
You’d think Yu would get a little home-cookin’, no?
In any case, what really stuck out to me about the play being first called a hit and then switched to an error is that I had it in my head that the exact opposite thing had just happened on a Javy Báez bouncer to third base recently. So I did some digging and found the play – a 5th inning groundball to Matt Carpenter on September 7.
On the play, Carpenter fields the ball cleanly – it is a much less challenging play than the Deshields bunt, just a deep grounder to third – but throws late and a little wide, pulling the first baseman off the base just as Báez arrives. The play was initially ruled a hit for Báez, but as you looked at the replay, it was clear: a good throw, and Báez is out by a tick.
So, basically, that’s kinda my beef with last night:
Yeah, I'm still not done with this. Just last week, Javy Báez was called safe on a nearly identical off-line throw. His was originally a hit, and then changed to an error! pic.twitter.com/UscIiG5OWt
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 16, 2020
To be sure, Bryant’s was a harder play, but in each case, the defender had successfully fielded the ball, and an on-target throw gets the runner out. Why would the scorekeeper CHANGE one to an error, and CHANGE the other to a hit? I think you could make the argument that they’re both throwing errors or they’re both hits, but varying your call between the two of them puts too much weight on the way the ball was fielded. Bryant is gonna get an error either way because the ball went sailing, and the runner advanced. But again, he fielded the ball, just as Carpenter fielded the ball. It was only the throw that was errant, and without the errant throw it’s an out in both cases.
In the end, I’m being a little cheeky here, and I don’t really think this was a grievous sin by the scorekeeper (this time or the other time). It just bums me out to think that one scoring decision – which easily could’ve, and maybe should’ve, gone the other way – makes such a huge difference in Darvish’s ERA on the year, which in turn is going to make such a huge difference in the Cy Young race.
Yes, I’ll hope that Darvish dominates his next two times out and moots this whole thing, but in the meantime, I’m gonna publish this post and hope that someone gives this play another look.
UPDATE: THERE HAS BEEN A REVISION! Yu Darvish has had one of those third inning runs removed from his ledger:
Last night's official scorer went through the Top 3rd again today and determined 1 of the 2 runs charged to @faridyu was unearned. So that helps his ERA. The DeShields' play remains (correctly) ruled hit+error. But the earned run calculation changed. In case you're wondering…
— Len Kasper (@LenKasper) September 16, 2020
It’s not exactly the revision I’d make, which would simply be to remove the hit, but this is a bit of having your cake and eating it, too, since the end result is basically the same. The decision here is, apparently, that Deshields wouldn’t have scored from first on Lindor’s later double or Jose Ramirez’s later would-be sac fly (to me, that’s a series of dubious assumptions, but again, I have no real beef at this point). VICTORY ACHIEVED!