The Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves last night. Or, I should say that they beat the Atlanta Braves and home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor.
Washington had a 3-0 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. The Braves mounted a little rally, though, scoring one run and then loading the bases with only one out. At that point Shawn Kelley was summoned to take over for closer Blake Treinen. It was a tough spot.
Kelley got Emilio Bonifacio to foul out and then concentrated on Chase d'Arnaud. Kelley got ahead of d’Arnaud 1-2. And then d’Arnaud . . . swung and missed! Ballgame! Right?
Nope. Because Bucknor said the swing and miss was a foul tip. Somehow. Look:
Eventually Kelley would get d’Arnaud swinging — with Bucknor actually acknowledging it — to end the game. But can you imagine what would’ve happened if d’Arnaud hit a bases-clearing and game-winning double with that new, unwarranted lease on life? It’d be a game we’d be talking about for decades. Even as it was, the Nationals gave Bucknor a well-deserved earful afterward.
This call, by the way, sort of overshadowed the fact that Bucknor’s strike zone in the game was absolutely wretched, with tons of balls in the left-handed batters box being called strikes (for more on that, check this out). That happens a lot and often it impacts both teams equally, but the Nats seemed to get the worst of that too.
Nothing is worse than that phantom foul tip call, though. That’s simply inexcusable. What in the heck was Bucknor watching?
Mets minor league outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently promoted from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie. Critics suggested that, because Tebow wasn’t exactly lighting up competition with Columbia, the promotion was just about marketing.
Tebow, to his credit, has gotten off to a good start with St. Lucie. In his first at-bat with his new team, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The home run came on a 3-1 count against starter Junior Fernandez of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Fernandez is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
With Columbia, Tebow was hitting a paltry .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 244 plate appearances.
The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.
Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.
Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:
Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.