6/18 Crash course
How about Carlos Pena’s collision at home in the sixth inning Saturday with Yankees catcher Russell Martin? Trailing 3-2 with one out, Pena was hit by a pitch and Reed Johnson was safe on a fielding error by Eduardo Nunez. A.J. Burnett exited, and Cory Wade entered. Alfonso Soriano hit a grounder to Alex Rodriguez, who threw to Robinson Cano at second. But he muffed it for an error and the bases were loaded. Geovany Soto then flew out to left and Pena tried to score but Brett Gardner fired a perfect strike to Martin, who survived a collision at the plate.
“We had to try it,” Pena said. “I thought it was the right thing to do. He was blocking the plate, and there was only one way to get to home plate and that was through him. He took a hit like a champ and held onto the ball and it was a great play by him so hats off.”
Said Martin: “Gardy’s the one who threw it. All I have to do is hold on to the baseball. That’s what you’re hoping for when you see that play develop — a long hop. The tough ones are the short hops.”
Pena and Martin exchanged a few words at first when Martin singled in the eighth.
“I know he’s a hard-nosed player,” Pena said. “He said, ‘That was a great drive, you hit me good.’ I said, ‘I don’t know how you held on.’ Among colleagues at the end of the day, we’re all friends and competing. I was impressed he held onto that ball. I took my best hit and he did a great job holding onto it.”
Martin apparently was talking to Nick Swisher on Friday, saying he was getting a little “bored” behind the plate.
“I got what I asked for,” Martin said.
“With two outs, you take a shot,” Mike Quade said. “He [Gardner] was in a position to make the best throw he could make given his momentum, and he did.”
Added Pena: “Anything in the air, I was going to go back and tag. I knew it would be a tough play for Gardner. He made a perfect throw. That’s a chance I want to take every single day. Right there, I’m going to go. They made the play. I’d rather err on the side of aggressiveness and that’s what we did today.”
— Carrie Muskat