And That Happened

Giants 1, Braves 0: Congratulations, Major League Baseball: a playoff game was decided by a blown call. Sure, Tim Lincecum struck out 14 dudes — and I don’t want to detract from what was a clearly dominant performance on his part — but he would have been in the dugout with his very nice no-decision watching the bullpens battle in the 10th inning had the umpires made the correct call on Buster Posey’s stolen base in the fourth inning. Posey admitted it after the game, going so far as to say “I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have instant replay right now.” That’s pretty much on the nose, is it not? Certainly we can’t change the outcome of baseball games that are in the books, but how Selig and the rest of the powers that be can continue to say everything is just dandy with umpiring and the state of replay is beyond me.

Setting that aside for now — and believe me, I’ll be saying more about it later — the Braves didn’t do themselves any favors whatsoever. Yes, Lincecum was good, but if the Braves had at any point in the game said “Hey, you know what? Maybe we should stop swinging at balls six inches out of the zone” it may have been a different game. If Bobby Cox had not inexplicably intentionally walked Pablo Sandoval before the Cody Ross single that scored Posey, it may have been a different game. But they didn’t and it wasn’t.

Ultimately, this was Tim Lincecum’s night. It was a fantastic performance by the guy, doing what he had to do to win a game in which his own offense wasn’t doing him any favors themselves. He went the distance, saving his pen for tonight’s game and putting the Giants in an excellent position to go up 2-0 before heading to Atlanta.

Yankees 5, Twins 2: More bad umpiring here, though this was balls-and-strikes bad, not calls-in-the-field bad. Maybe in a just world we have replay for disputed calls right now, but I don’t think any set of circumstances would have us living in a world with automated ball-and-strike umping at present. But jeez, look at Hunter Wendlestedt’s zone. Ick. It all culminated, of course, in what should have been strike three to Lance Berkman in the seventh. Instead, Wendlestedt called it a ball and Berkman hit what ended up being the game-winning double on the next pitch. He ended up scoring too, making it 4-2 ,and that was basically all she wrote.

But like with the Braves’ awful at-bats against Tim Lincecum, the Twins have a bigger issue to deal with here. Namely the fact that tattooed on the rear end of each and every Minnesota Twins player are the words “Property of the New York Yankees Baseball Club.”

Rangers 6, Rays 0: And for our third bad call of the day, we go to Tampa, where Michael Young’s three-run homer came one pitch after he stayed alive on a disputed — an ultimately incorrectly-called — check-swing. Unlike the other two games, though, this wasn’t the deciding factor. James Shields was terrible, the Rays’ bats listless and Texas was never challenged. Leave it to Mitch Williams of all people to correctly analyze the problem here: “there are three other guys who should have started that game over James Shields.” OK, maybe that overstates it a little — and I still don’t know that I’d want Shields starting in Texas — but Joe Maddon’s decision to go with him in Game 2 doesn’t look too spiffy at the moment. Not that he really had control over things . . .

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  1. Rob in CT said...

    His zone was consistent, except for a few pitches practically down the middle he missed (for both sides, IIRC).  So basically he sucked. 

    But yeah, he was giving pitchers outside to lefties but not inside corner.  All night.  Pettitte arguably had the more difficult zone to deal with.

    I get that the Twins might focus on that one pitch to Berkman, but an objective observer has to recognize that it was simply a oh-so-human strike zone all night long. 

    Bring on the robots.

  2. Greg Simons said...

    After the Freak Show was over, I swear that before going to a break during the post-game, the announcer said something like, “We’ll be right back with more about the most dominating pitching performance so far this postseason.”

    Really?  Halladay’s no-hitter was forgotten a mere day later?

    Regardless of what Game Score might say about a two-hit, one-walk, 14-K peformance vs. a no-hit, one-walk, 8-K performance, that comment seems like at least a bit of hyperbole.

  3. spark said...

    Berkman would not have even had 2 strikes on him if two pitches clearly outside hadn’t been called strikes on him by Wendlestedt earlier in the count. Sorry, Twins, you can’t get every close pitch.

  4. Alan said...

    Halladay’s game was far more dominant.  The Braves deserve as much credit as Lincecum for his line.  They were overanxious and didn’t do what served them well this year: work the count and draw walks.  They consistently got themselves out.  Glad to finally see someone write about that instead about how “brilliant” Lincecum was.

  5. Sej said...

    Not to defend the ump too much, but from what I could tell Wendlestedt was at least calling a consistent strike zone.  He would give Pavano a few more inches outside and took away a few on the inside.  This was for every lefty batter all night so it’s not as if Pavano didn’t know this was happening.  And I agree with spark.  It’s kind of disingenuous to say that a bad third strike call changed the course of the game when a bad strike call immediately before that put the count in that position.

  6. Jim C said...

    The call on Posey’s stolen base may have been incorrect, but the real fault in that inning was Infante not diving to at least knock down Ross’s ground ball. He tried to make a great play instead of the smart play, and blew it.

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