So how often is the outcome of a ballgame the secondary story?
Of course, the big, flashy thing from the Tigers' 7-5 loss to the Red Sox last night is the fight between Kevin Youkilis and Rick Porcello. The Tigers felt they had to stick up for themselves after Miguel Cabrera was hit on the hand in the first inning, and Porcello threw a purpose pitch inside to Victor Martinez during Boston's turn at-bat. (Martinez took exception, and tried to stare the rookie down. That was the first attempt to intimidate Kid Rick.)
Cabrera's hand was painful enough that he came out of the game after fouling a pitch off in his next at-bat. (He was later diagnosed with a bruised hand, with his status listed as day-to-day.) And that lit the fuse.
Porcello hit Youkilis with his very first pitch, and it was on. Youkilis charged the mound, throwing his helmet at Kid Rick, and then attempted to tackle him. But Porcello used his attacker's momentum against him, and hip-tossed him to the ground. (Obviously, there are going to be different accounts of this, depending on which team you root for. But if you look at it objectively, I think it's pretty clear who got thrown to the ground.)
After the benches cleared, with Tigers and Red Sox either sticking their chest out or trying to keep peace, both Porcello and Youkilis were ejected from the game. Unfortunately for Detroit, this is pretty much where the game was lost. Porcello looked like he had the stuff to beat Boston, but didn't really get a chance to show it. The Red Sox lost Youkilis, but his replacement, Mike Lowell, came in and smacked two home runs.
And in easily the worst trade-off, Chris Lambert replaced Porcello and proceeded to pitch batting practice. Maybe it's because he had to come in quickly, and didn't have time to warm up properly. Maybe Lambert was overwhelmed by pitching in Boston for the first time since college. Maybe playing in Fenway Park was just too much for him to handle. Whatever the reason, Lambert was awful. The kind of awful that makes you wonder if we'll ever see him in a Tigers uniform again.
Lambert served up three home runs, leading to five Boston runs, and walked four batters. If there's one good thing you could say about the outing, it's that he pitched five innings and prevented Jim Leyland from further tapping out his bullpen. But I don't know how much credit Lambert actually deserves, since I think he was basically left out there to hang. The Tigers needed someone to make up Porcello's innings. (After the game, he was sent back down to Toledo, and Freddy Dolsi was recalled.)
In the end, the Tigers ended up losing a game they probably could've won. And the repercussions from the brawl could ripple out for a few days. Armando Galarraga may be too sick to make his start tonight. But Lambert won't be taking his place. Zach Miner probably isn't available, either, after pitching two innings on Monday. So unless an emergency call-up is made, Galarraga might have to pitch while feeling ill. (And if you thought he was bad before...)
Will Porcello get suspended? It sure seems likely, but I think you could make a pretty strong case that he wasn't throwing at Youkilis. For one thing, he had a 3-0 lead and looked to be in command of the game. Why jeopardize that? But if you watch the pitch in question, Porcello didn't aim the ball right at the batter. He threw a two-seam fastball that ran inside. (Compare that to the pitch he threw to Martinez.) Given what happened, however, it might all be elementary.
Looking at this through Tiger-striped glasses, you could say that Porcello truly became a major league pitcher last night. He wasn't intimidated. He stuck up for himself and his teammates. And when a crazy, hulking bald man ran at him with intent to fight, he didn't back down. That will go a long way toward earning Porcello some respect around this league. (And, of course, within his clubhouse.) As if his stuff wasn't already getting him that respect.
You could also pull out the cliche card and say this is the sort of thing that can bring a team closer together. (Though that seemed to work more for the Red Sox immediately after the brawl.) We'll see about that. After triage is performed on the pitching staff, and some aching sluggers get healed up. Maybe the Tigers can still salvage something from the remaining two games of this series.
Comment of the Night:
that’s one way to limit the innings