Excuse me, while I kiss this baseball.
With the game tied, 4-4, in the ninth inning, Detroit Tigers reliever Al Alburqurque was called on in a tough spot. The Oakland Athletics had runners at the corners and two outs when Tigers manager Jim Leyland summoned the 26-year-old righty to face Yoenis Cespedes.
After taking two pitches (ball, strike), Cespedes got wood to Al Al's third pitch. It didn't go far, though. After fielding the lightly-hit ball, Alburquerque brought it to his lips and kissed it before tossing it to first for the final out of the frame. The mid-sequence smooch occurred so smoothly between Alburquerque fielding the ball and throwing it to Prince Fielder that a fan watching could have missed it. The A's, however, did not miss it. After Don Kelly's walk-off sac fly won the game for the Tigers, Oakland players were still talking about that kiss off.
"I didn't appreciate it," A's outfielder Josh Reddick told reporters, via Jane Lee of MLB.com. "I think that's immature and not very professional."
Not only did Reddick's teammate Jonny Gomes also not approve, but he suspects that higher baseball authorities (and, no, he doesn't mean Bud Selig) might also frown upon this bit of celebratory PDA.
"He must not believe in baseball gods," Gomes said after the game, via Bob Nightengale of USA Today. "Baseball gods take care of that stuff."
While it may take some sort of otherworldly intervention for the A's to dig out of a 0-2 hole when they get back to Oakland, there was at least one player from the AL West champs that didn't seem too upset by the play. Cespedes, the player that delivered the ball back to Alburquerque, would rather get even than hold a grudge.
“It’s OK, It’s not a problem for me,” Cespedes told Susan Slosser of the San Francisco Chronicle after the game. “We’re not finished yet and when we get back to Oakland, I’m going to hit the ball hard against him – and kiss my bat.”