I regret to inform you that umpire Jim Joyce has made another controversial ruling. I say this because Joyce was the umpire whose safe call on a Jason Donald ground ball ended Armando Galarraga’s perfect game in 2010. Joyce was on the receiving end of a lot of vitriol despite apologizing to Galarraga the next day. Umpires are human, sometimes they mess up. Sometimes they mess up in important situations.
Thankfully, Thursday afternoon’s situation was, all things considered, a much less important situation. The Indians had the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning with Lonnie Chisenhall at the plate against Astros rookie pitcher David Paulino. With a 1-2 count, Paulino spiked a curve ball. The ball appeared to bounce up and hit Chisenhall’s bat, but home plate umpire Joyce didn’t see it. Francisco Lindor came around to score easily. Catcher Jason Castro, assuming the ball was dead, did not chase after it and instead chose to plead his case to Joyce, which allowed Mike Napoli to come all the way around from second to score as well. That bolstered the Indians’ lead to 4-1.
The umpires conferred but upheld the initial ruling: the Indians scored two runs on a wild pitch. The replay clearly shows that the ball hit Chisenhall’s bat.
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The Indians would go on to win 10-7.
Yes, it was a terrible call. And, yes, the ruling should have been overturned. Essentially, the umpires got the call wrong twice. But, as I mentioned, umpires are human and make mistakes. That’s to be expected when you have human beings establishing the rules. It wouldn’t be as big of a deal if most of the other umpires, but because it’s Jim Joyce, it’s a big deal — the same way fans would make a big deal about another balk call from umpire “Balkin’ Bob” Davidson. Sometimes, your reputation precedes you.