Brandon Guyer’s strategy not a hit with David Price
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In the tattered and dusty annals of Major League Baseball, Brandon Guyer twice in less than a year has etched his name into the "statistical oddity'' index. Tampa Bay's 30-year-old left fielder three times on Thursday afternoon was hit by pitches, twice by Red Sox ace David Price, and over the last 100 years that has happened to batters only 22 other times.
"Hmm,'' said a seemingly sincere and somewhat bruised Guyer after Tampa's marathon 12-8 win at Fenway. "Really?''
Guyer, who has rarely met an inside pitch he didn't want to marry, led the AL last year when he was hit 24 times by pitches. Three of those were thrown in the same game, Oct. 2 by the Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle.
Consider the odds. Over 16 seasons, Buehrle pitched 3,283⅓ innings and hit a total of 79 batters. And three of those plunks came in the same game against Brandon “La Pinata’’ Guyer.
"I saw [Buehrle] in the parking lot after that game and he was just kind of saying, 'Dude, do you not know how to move?' '' recalled Guyer, who became an everyday player for Tampa in 2014. "I mean, [pitchers] know it is part of the game, man."
For his part, Price appeared to be duly chafed in the fourth inning when he hit Guyer for a second time in three trips to the plate.
NESN cameras pulled tight on Price's face and he seemed to be yelling into plate umpire James Hoye. It wasn't that Guyer had made little attempt to get out of the way; he had made zero attempt to get out of the way.
"It's a good pitch,'' said Price, managing a smile as he prepared to leave the clubhouse. "I mean, that's a really good pitch. And to have that be a hit batter . . . that is either a strike or a hit batter, so that makes it tough.'
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no one in MLB history has been hit by a pitch more than three times in a game. The last threepeat was the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter, in a 14-inning game on June 4, 2013. The last AL player to go trey had been Cleveland's Austin Kearns, July 5, 2010.
"I asked the home plate umpire,'' said Sox skipper John Farrell, who twice saw Guyer eventually score when hit by pitches. "There's got to be some kind of an attempt [to avoid getting hit]. And after the second one [by Price], which hit him in the elbow, it even looked like the ball had a chance to be on the edge for a strike.''
According to Guyer, his "go ahead and hit me'' posture is not a tactic. He more than twice after the game said he simply doesn't have "the instinct to move." It sounded far more like he meant he didn't have the inclination to move.
"It's not something I ever go out there thinking about,'' he said. "It happens a lot because instinctually I don't know how to move. It's just instincts, I don't move. If it is going to hit me, it's going to hit me. It's not something I try to do out there.''
"I don't necessarily agree that he's just taking it,'' said Rays manager Kevin Cash, disagreeing with the suggestion that Guyer is a willing recipient of gifts thrown his way. "Because that hurts. Two of the three balls, one started behind him, on that slider by [Noe] Ramirez [in the ninth inning]. And any time you get one on the elbow . . . I don't think he's up there looking to get hit by any means.''
Price was much more concerned over his overall letdown of an outing, on a day when, he said, he felt the best he has felt all year. It all came apart in a six-run fourth, the inning that included Guyer getting hit for a second time.
“I was teammates with Brandon for a quite a while in Tampa,’’ said Price, who prior to this year had hit only 35 batters in 1,441⅔ innings. “He is one of the two guys I have played with there that, you know, they are not going to get out of the way. If you miss in, or really close in, they’re going to wear it. Him and [ex-Sox catcher] Kelly Shoppach are two guys I’ve seen do that really well.’’
And what did the $30 million Sox lefthander think of the stand-there-and-take-it strategy?
"Umm, it worked out for them today,'' he said. "That's part of it.''