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.
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?