ATLANTA - The old first-and-third fake ploy never works.
Yet, it never almost backfires either.
“I’ve probably done that 3,000 times in my career,” said Toronto Blue Jays reliever Chad Beck, after he was called for a balk in the sixth inning as the Jays lost 4-3 to the Atlanta Braves before 42,488 fans at Turner Field Friday night.
Jason Heyward scored the game-winner in the 10th. He reached base on an infield dribbler off Francisco Cordero, stole second and then third, scoring when catcher J.P. Arencibia bounced a hurried throw into left field.
Beck entered the game in the sixth after starter Kyle Drabek ran into trouble and Luis Perez walked Andrelton Simmons, in his 23rd major-league at-bat, on four straight pitches.
With two out and runners on the corners, Beck faked to third and spun to first as Simmons broke for second.
First base ump Dan Bellino yelled: “Balk!”
In strolled Heyward from third with the tying run.
“The guy at first said I didn’t stop,” Beck said. Yet, pitchers only have to stop when throwing the ball to the plate. “And the ump at third (Jerry Layne) said my foot broke the plane.”
Toronto didn’t lose because of a balk.
“It wasn’t a balk,” said Jays manager John Farrell.
Toronto lost because of the walk. They surrendered seven in all, including one that scored and one that got knocked in for a run.
Drabek threw 105 pitches, 56 for strikes, in five innings of work. Perez threw four strikes in 11 pitches and Carlos Villanueva threw 11 in 24.
Drabek walked Dan Uggla with the bases loaded in the third to force in a run. Drabek walked Uggla again in the seventh, after which the Braves second baseman scored on a Heyward double.
NEXT YEAR IT'S A BALK
Commissioner Bud Selig’s 14-man, blue-ribbon Playing Rules Committee approved a proposal to make the first-and-third ploy a balk on May 10. MLB executives and umps were in agreement, but the players’ union vetoed the plan for this season to discuss it further. The league is allowed to implement the change after a one-year wait.
Under the new rule, a pitcher could not fake to third unless he first stepped off the rubber. If he stayed on it would be a balk.
Joe Simpson was at the microphone at a luncheon to induct John Smoltz into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame Friday.
“You know you might be a John Smoltz friend,” said the Braves announcer, sounding like comedian Jeff Foxworthy, “when you have a conversation with him ... and it’s over and you realize that you haven’t said a word.”
Later Simpson said: “You know you might be a John Smoltz friend when you’re still on the green holing out, he’s at the tee box of the next hole.”
And out walked Foxworthy, a Smoltz friend, as the crowd cheered at the Omni Hotel.
Foxworthy explained how the Braves had phoned this week “draft week -- I told my wife, ‘they’ve finally come to their senses. they want me.’ ”
Foxworthy jabbed Smoltz and Chipper Jones, who was at class-A Rome on a rehab assignment.
“I thought John was a great pitcher, then he went into broadcasting. I’ve seen him in the booth, now I say, ‘Well, John always was a great pitcher,’ ” joked Foxworthy. “Chipper only plays about 18 games a season more than me and earns $14 million,”
Smoltz made 27 post-season starts plus 14 in relief, logging 209 innings -- a season for some -- going 15-4 with four saves and a 2.67 earned-run average.
He had a 210-147 record and a 3.26 ERA in 20 seasons with Atlanta.
“Our retired number display is getting crowded,” president John Schuerholz said during pre-game ceremonies Friday night, “It won’t be long until Cooperstown is crowded with Braves too: Bobby Cox, (Tom) Glavine, (Greg) Maddux and Smoltz.”
It won’t be long until Schuerholz makes it either.
Smoltz thanked pitching coaches Leo Mazzone, Bruce Dal Canton and Roger McDowell with the Braves and Farrell from his time with the Boston Red Sox. Smotlz also thanked Bill Slack of Petrolia, Ont., his coach at class-A Macon and double-A Greenville.
When Mike Timlin fielded Otis Nixon’s bunt and fired to first baseman Joe Carter for the final out in the 11th to give the Jays their first World Series, who was the Braves runner racing home from third?
Through nine innings Friday, Toronto and Atlanta were hitless in 18 at-bats with men in scoring posiition (Jays were 0-for-6) ... Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion’s right hand looked to be healed. He doubled to left in the eighth and two ground balls later scored. He also singled and hit two bullets in his first two at-bats after missing the Chicago White Sox series earlier this week ... Braves starter Brandon Beachy was a tough out, reaching on an infield single and doubling to the wall off Drabek ... Jose Bautista argued on a strike call with plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt in the third ... From his knees, Arencibia threw out the speedy Michael Bourn. Bourn was attempting to steal second after leading off the bottom of the first with a single. He had been successful 15 of his first 21 chances stealing this season ... Ex-Brave Yunel Escobar was booed each time at the plate ... The Coca-Cola bottle in the left-field corner displayed the Canadian flag -- right side up -- during the singing of O Canada.
Pinch runner Smoltz.