In what should come as a surprise to no one, baseball’s umpires have become the story here in the first few games of the 2010 postseason.
The umps blew a call in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s ALDS Game 1 between the Yankees and Twins, ruling a perfectly good catch by Yanks outfielder Greg Golson a “trap.” Then a blown check-swing call in this afternoon’s ALDS Game 2 between the Rangers and Rays led to a Michael Young three-run homer. Young should have been out, but was given another hack and changed the outcome of the game with a towering shot to center field.
Now the boys in blue are playing a factor in tonight’s ALDS Game 2 in Minnesota. Yankees designated hitter Lance Berkman should have been called out in the seventh inning on a Carl Pavano pitch that hugged the inside corner of the strike zone, but home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called the pitch a ball and Berkman launched a run-scoring double moments later.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire argued Wendelstedt’s mistake while making a visit to the mound and was quickly thrown out. The Twins trail the Yanks 4-2 as this Game 2 tilt heads to the final few frames.
A replay system for ball and strike calls won’t work, and should never be implemented, but it’s past time to explore an expanded strategy for other on-field calls. This
isn’t about trashing the umps — they do the best they can. This is about getting the calls correct.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.