OAKLAND -- After 30-plus years in professional baseball, A's manager Bob Geren said he has seen almost everything on the diamond.
But he had never before seen anything like the bizarre balk committed in the top of the fifth inning on Saturday night at the Coliseum by Tigers starter Justin Verlander.
With Daric Barton at first base and David DeJesus at the plate, Verlander went into his stretch. He stepped back off the mound, intending to throw to first, but apparently caught a cleat in the dirt. So instead of making an off-balance throw to first, he threw toward home plate -- and hit DeJesus.
Home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck ruled it a balk and awarded second base to Barton. DeJesus' at-bat continued, and he eventually walked.
"That was the strangest [thing] I've ever seen," Geren said. "I had to ask everybody what they saw, too, because everybody was like, 'Did I see that right?' It took like six coaches to try to figure out what he did. It was the most bizarre balk, or illegal pitch or whatever. Explanations were sketchy, everything. Ultimately, he did step off the mound, so it wasn't a pitch. You could not get a hit batter."
Even though Verlander actually did hit a batter.
Verlander said he intended to throw to first, but "didn't get my body turned" and changed plans.
"The way I thought -- and this was all in milliseconds -- if I just throw it home, they won't call anything. If I throw the ball straight to [catcher] Victor [Martinez] maybe they don't call anything." said Verlander.
"I saw the video of it, and I couldn't help but laugh at myself. It might be the first time that has happened, in general. I thought nothing could happen at the plate. It was a weird circumstance. It was funny talking to the umpires. They gave me a hard time about it, too."
"It was strange," Geren said. "It's a rule that I don't think you could even find it in the rule book. If somebody sees that in the rule book, show me where it is. That was very strange."
Eric Gilmore is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.