And it backfired.
Matt Kemp, the NL player of the month for April, hadn’t been intentionally walked all season before Colorado manager Jim Tracy gave him two free passes today. It was the second of those that was truly surprising, though: Kemp was put on as the tying run with a man on first and two outs in the ninth.
The Rockies were leading 5-3 when Rafael Betancourt walked Kemp, bringing up Dee Gordon. The move was made even though Kemp had just a lone single in 10 career at-bats against Betancourt. Gordon went on to hit a game-tying double, with Kemp scoring all of the way from first. The Rockies should have had a play at the plate on Kemp, but Troy Tulowitzki rushed the relay and threw the ball well up the first base line. A good throw likely would have had Kemp by several feet.
Fortunately the Rockies were able to preserve the tie from there: after an intentional walk to Andre Ethier, Jerry Hairston Jr. made a bid for a three-run homer, only to have the ball go foul. He ended up striking out. The Rockies then picked up their manager, as Jason Giambi hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the game.
Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crew for the World Series. John Hirschbeck is the crew chief. It’s his fifth World Series assignment, third as a crew chief.
A surprising name on the crew is Joe West. It’ll be his sixth World Series overall, but first since 2012. There had been chatter for several years that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series more often while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umpires. Most assumed West’s absence from the Fall Classic in recent years, despite his seniority, was a function of that. Maybe they’re still making merit a priority and maybe West has just improved? I’ll leave that for you to judge.
Anyway, here is the lineup of umps for Game 1. They will rotate after that, of course. If the series goes six games, Cowboy Joe will be calling the balls and strikes:
Home plate: Larry Vanover
1B: Chris Guccione
2B: John Hirschbeck
3B: Marvin Hudson
LF: Tony Randazzo
RF: Joe West
Replay Official for Games 1-2: Sam Holbrook (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)
Replay Official for Games 3-7: Larry Vanover (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)