Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander committed what might go down as the craziest balk you'll ever see in a baseball game. On Saturday night against the Oakland Athletics, the A's had Daric Barton on first and David DeJesus at bat with nobody out in the fifth inning. I was at the game but I was watching DeJesus when Verlander went to throw. Fortunately an enterprising individual has posted video of the events, which you can watch after the jump.
As you can see in the video, Verlander appears to be preparing to make a quick turn and throw to first in a pickoff attempt. However, his body doesn't turn far enough and so suddenly he's firing a pitch pretty much right at DeJesus in the batters box. DeJesus played it off as though it hit him and went to take his base. Confusion was everywhere and as DeJesus went to first, Tigers manager Jim Leyland came out to discuss the play with the umpires.
The umps convened to discuss it, at which point Verlander appears to acknowledge that clearly he did something wrong. Eventually the umpires sent DeJesus back to the plate and Barton over to second base. The in-stadium scorekeeper ruled it a wild pitch but correctly changed it to a balk later in the game.
After the game, Verlander acknowledged what appears somewhat evident on the video:
Verlander explained that he was trying to make a pickoff throw to first base but his body was caught out of position, so he thought if he just threw home he could avoid a balk.
"I saw the video of it and I couldn't help but laugh at myself," Verlander said. "It might be the first time it happened in general. I thought nothing could happen at the plate. It was funny talking to the umpires. They gave me a hard time about it, too."
On the one hand, given the way right-handed pitchers try and make that quick turn and throw to first I'm surprised something like this hasn't happened before. On the other hand, it's safe to say we won't see something like that again for a long time, if ever.