A tossed salad for Weiland
Lots going on in debut of pitcher
Little boys with oversized mitts and even bigger dreams spend hours imagining their major league debuts.
Few - if any - could have pictured one as odd as Kyle Weiland’s yesterday afternoon at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox righthander started the game well, striking out Nick Markakis in a 1-2-3 first inning. The Orioles then batted around and tagged Weiland for six runs on seven hits in the second inning. In the fifth, plate umpire Marty Foster ejected Weiland after he hit Vladimir Guerrero with a sinker that didn’t sink.
“It’s not exactly what you have written out and planned for,’’ Weiland said. “It was a great experience, and I’ve got the first one under the belt. Obviously, I would have liked a few things to have gone differently.’’
Weiland is the first Sox player to be tossed in his big league debut, and the first major leaguer since the Braves’ Francisley Bueno suffered the same fate after throwing a pitch behind Alfonso Soriano’s head Aug. 13, 2008. (It was Bueno’s only major league appearance.) Only six other players have been ejected in their debuts.
Weiland said he wasn’t trying to hit Guerrero, but felt he needed to pitch inside to the power hitter. So Weiland went with a pitch he’s used in a lot of similar situations.
“My sinker has been one of my best pitches,’’ Weiland said. “It’s a go-to pitch for me. I’ve hit a lot of guys with it. It happens, but unfortunately, it was in the wrong situation.’’
Bad timing is one way to look at it. The ejection came one inning after Foster issued warnings to both teams after Kevin Youkilis was hit by Jeremy Guthrie. The teams exchanged hit batsmen all weekend, following Friday’s benches-clearing incident involving Sox slugger David Ortiz and Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg.
Weiland’s was the first of four ejections yesterday in what ended up an 8-6 Red Sox win.
“When it happened, I was like, ‘Oh, well, I mean, that’s the rules, I guess,’ ’’ Weiland said. “I didn’t think the warnings were really warranted. Youkilis got hit on a changeup, so that was a little confusing we got warned.’’
Said Sox catcher Jason Varitek: “He obviously wasn’t trying to hit [anybody].’’
Sox manager Terry Francona was the next to go, his ejection automatic once the warnings were given.
“I just told him he was going to pay my fine,’’ Francona joked.
In the sixth, Orioles lefthander Michael Gonzalez was ejected after he threw a pitch behind Ortiz. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was automatically tossed at that time, as well.
All in all, it won’t be a day Weiland soon forgets.
He’d waited more than 24 years for his debut, and despite the six runs allowed and the ejection, he still called it the most exciting day of his life. He had family members, including his wife, Rachel, and friends at Fenway.
Before yesterday, the largest crowd Weiland had pitched in front of was about 14,000. He said his jitters wore off by the third inning (after the Sox had tied the game at 6), and he improved most of his pitch locations throughout the outing.
“I thought he threw the ball much better than the results,’’ Varitek said. “He’s come a long way since the last time I got to see him, which was two years ago.’’
Before the call-up, Weiland posted an 8-6 record in 17 starts for Pawtucket. He had a 3.00 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 93 innings. Because of injuries to a slew of starting pitchers (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Daisuke Matsuzaka), Weiland got the start for the final game of the first half. It might not have gone the way he imagined it, but it was certainly memorable.
“I’m excited about the next [start],’’ Weiland said. “Who knows when that’ll be, but I’m definitely excited for it.’’