Buck Showalter wanted to get Kevin Gausman out of the game. And fast.
With two outs in the fifth inning, Gausman, the Orioles starting pitcher, had allowed a three-run home run to Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts to make the score 6-0 Boston, and Showalter had seen enough. The Baltimore manager was so anxious to pull his starter from the game that he cut right in front of Bogaerts during his home-run trot and headed to the mound before the batter even touched home plate.
You can see Showalter’s premature stroll around the one-minute mark here.
This has surely happened before at one point or another over baseball’s long history, but we sure haven’t seen it. It’s one thing for a manager to leave the dugout before the opposing hitter has crossed home plate, but Showalter was practically to the mound.
Whether or not Showalter meant any harm here, his premature trip to the mound feels wrong on several levels. It’s unfair to Bogaerts, who deserved to enjoy his trot after an absolutely monstrous home run. It sends a brutal message to Gausman, who can’t feel good that his manager is in such a massive hurry to pull him. And it seems to violate a pretty basic rule of baseball: that the manager can’t be on the field in the middle of a play. Just overall not cool.
It’s easy to see why Showalter might have been frustrated. With Thursday’s 6-2 loss, the Orioles dropped to 12-30 on the season, giving them the second-worst record in baseball. After a promising four-game win streak, they have now lost three of their last four contests. And in the moment of Bogaerts’ home run, Showalter had just watched his best pitcher and one of his team’s sole bright spots so far this year serve up a massive dinger.
But understandable as Showalter’s exasperation may have been, it doesn’t seem like much to ask that he wait a tad longer before beginning his walk to the mound. Even just a few seconds.