Many are talking about this as the latest act in the season long run of The Umpire Follies, but I think it’s something more fundamental.
The upshot: in the ninth inning of yesterday’s Royals-Angels game, Jeff Francoeur swung at a pitch with two strikes on him. Home plate umpire Marty Foster called him out on strikes. But wait! Francoeur argued that he fouled the ball off and should live to take another hack. Foster, eventually, consulted second base umpire Tim Welke who backed Francoeur, saying he saw the ball tipped. Foster reversed himself.
This set off an argument from Mike Scioscia, who claimed that Foster wasn’t allowed to consult another ump on that call for a second opinion. Scioscia — who had multiple run-ins with Foster all weekend — was ejected. After the game, Ned Yost actually agreed with Scioscia that Foster couldn’t consult Welke:
Royals manager Ned Yost had a different angle on the play, but believed that Foster shouldn’t have been able to check with Welke on the play.
“It was a foul ball,” Yost said. “I told Marty, he said he didn’t hear it. I said I heard it; he goes ‘Well I’ll check.’ You’re not allowed to check, so Mike was right in a sense. But one of the umpires did see it.”
Know what? Any rules of umpiring which prevent calls from being made properly, be it due to the lack of replay or the lack of what umpires are allowed to do with replay or situations like this one where umpires are allowed to ask for help from other umps on some calls but not others is stupid.
“You’re not allowed to check?” Christ, man, get the calls right. That’s all fans want. If one umpire sees something and another one doesn’t, what possible justification is there for us to ignore the right call? I’m GLAD Foster consulted Welke. I don’t care what the rules say. Get the calls right.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.