Buster Posey has a very high opinion of himself these days.
The catcher for the San Francisco Giants, and pretty much the best position player on the team, got plunked by Philadelphia Phillies closer Hector Neris on Sunday, and he was convinced that it happened on purpose.
Posey said he has no doubt Neris drilled him on purpose. "I guess he didn't feel he could get me out."
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) August 20, 2017
Let’s back up before anyone goes after Neris with torches and pitchforks. The plunking happened in the bottom of the eighth inning of Sunday’s game, and the Phillies had two outs and a two-run lead. Neris had just come in, and had to deal with runners on first and second. It had been a close game — the Phillies were down 2-1 until the top of the eighth when they broke out for three runs. Still, it was just a two-run lead, and with two runners on, it wasn’t a time to take anything for granted.
Posey was the first batter that Neris faced. And with his first pitch of the entire game, Neris hit Posey on the back. In the video you can see that Neris reacts instantly, and in a way that says “Oh crap, that’s not what I wanted to do!” Posey, on the other hand, immediately starts to look at Neris and even says some words in his direction. There’s no doubt in Posey’s mind that it was on purpose.
Here’s the thing: Neris hitting Posey on purpose makes absolutely no sense. Not only was it his first pitch of the game, putting Posey on loaded the bases. The Giants had an even better chance of tying the game, so why do that intentionally? Posey’s an excellent hitter (he’s got a .321/.410/.477 line on the season), but it seems really unlikely that Neris would have purposely loaded the bases and put the game on the line just to avoid pitching to him. (He’s good, but he’s not Barry Bonds.) And after the game, Neris said as much.
Hector Neris laughed. "It's stupid because nobody who watched that said, 'Oh he hit him on purpose in that situation.' "
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) August 21, 2017
Hector Neris said "no chance" he hit Posey on purpose. Said it would've been "stupid" to put tying run into scoring position on purpose.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) August 21, 2017
Intentional plunkings are no joke. They’re dangerous and unnecessary. But pitchers aren’t perfect and mistakes happen. Sometimes a pitch just gets away. There doesn’t have to be any meaning behind it. And even if there was some kind of meaning, it’s pretty unlikely that Neris was scared of Posey.
But maybe Posey was just trying to make himself feel better. The Giants lost the game 5-2, and it was a pretty significant loss.
#SFGIants split a series against baseball's worst teams after winning first two. They are mathematically eliminated from the West.
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) August 20, 2017
The Phillies, the worst team in baseball, had officially eliminated the Giants from the National League West race. The Giants aren’t far behind the Phillies, but still: that has to sting.
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