TORONTO - We understand the concept of earned runs.
Why should runs be charged against a pitcher’s ERA when he makes a great pitch to pop up a dangerous hitter and the second baseman drops the ball?
We agree with all that.
Yet, when the pitcher makes the error costing his team a run, why is the run not earned?
The question arose as Henderson Alvarez threw a ball away in the fifth inning Tuesday night, allowing a runner to score from third. The run was the difference as the Chicago White Sox edged the Blue Jays 3-2 before 18,919 fans at the Rogers Centre.
Alvarez skied his pick-off attempt off the glove of first baseman David Cooper. The ball didn’t roll far -- it’s not like he threw it into the rhubarb patch or the 15th row -- but it rolled far enough for Alejando De Aza to race home from third with the decisive run.
We asked some veteran observers. Unearned or earned?
“An error is an error, unearned,” said Darren Oliver, closer for the night as Casey Janssen had the night off.
“The other team didn’t earn the run if it’s some one’s mistake, unearned,” said Janssen. “The penalty of having a loss beside your name is worse than an earned run.”
“I’ve heard that argument for years,” said Pat Hengten, Jays special assistant, “soon as you throw the pitch you become a defender, unearned.”
“It’s a fielding mistake, not a pitching mistake, unearned,” said pitching coach Bruce Walton.
Alvarez pitched seven innings allowing seven hits and three runs, two earned.
Big picture: Signing Jeff Mathis to a two-year deal will not block the road to the majors for injured catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Alex Anthopoulos hinted there could be room for three catchers on next year’s roster. “We don’t know about Adam Lind for next year,” said the Jays general manager. “We may have some at-bats available at DH.” Lind, demoted to triple-A Las Vegas last year, is in Dunedin with a back injury. Edwin Encarnacion is staying at first base. If d’Arnaud’s bat could move into the lineup at the DH, could Arencibia, who most scouts say is not as good defensively as d’Arnaud? “I’m not a big fan of displacing guys who have held a position. Like when John Buck was injured and we first brought J.P. up, we shouldn’t have any young player, playing twice a week here. He’s better off to be getting at-bats every day in the minors.” ... Had d’Arnaud been healthy he would have replaced Arencibia. Of course there could be a trade partner to be found this winter.
Help where you can get it: “Do you know how smart he is?” asked Hentgen as he nodded towards Joe Carter, in town for his third annual golf tournament on Wednesday. “I’d go to him and ask for advice on how to pitch opposing hitters, always middle of the order. Let’s say it was the White Sox. I’d ask about Robin Ventura, Alberta Belle and Frank Thomas. Joe would say ‘Albert is sitting on your breaking ball.’” Hentgen said he sought out help with the approval of pitching coach Galen Cisco. “All Galen cared about was strikes and outs.” Hengten said. “Who do you think told me I was tipping my pitches?” asked the former Cy Young award winner. “Robbie Alomar. Plus Devon White helped. He could see everything from centre.”
In Game: Alvarez allowed four hits in the three-run fifth. A.J. Pierzynski singled to open the inning and an out later Dayan Viciedo did the same. Moises Sierra made a nice running catch on a drive by Gordon Beckham. Then singles by De Aza and ex-Jay DeWayne Wise tied the score to set the stage for the wild throw ... Jeff Mathis backed up first and threw out Pierzynski at second after Yunel Escobar’s return throw to first skipped into foul ground ... Alvarez fumbled a come backer from Gordon Beckham in the third. That, plus his high throw in the fifth, gave Alvarez two errors in the game and four on the season ... Rajai Davis stole second and scored on a Mike McCoy grounder in the third for a 2-0 lead ... McCoy attempted to bunt speedster Davis over and Pierzynski threw out Davis at second in the first. Escobar drilled a two-out single to left for the game’s first run.
Adeiny’s night: Adreiny Hechevarria lined a one-out double to left for his first extra-base hit and he also went airborne to grab a liner at third base from Alejandro De Aza, who led off the eighth ... “His glove plays right now,” said one visiting evaluator, “but then I said that in early June.”