Fans and players complaining about bad calls is fairly common. Sometimes there’s a case, sometimes it is overblown and most of the time it can be dismissed as sour grapes.
Anyone who has watched sports knows that bad calls will inevitably happen, but more often than not the better team will win and on the whole, fans and especially players would be far better off worrying about other things besides borderline calls that may or may not go the way they’d like them to.
With all of that being said, Friday night’s ninth inning called strikes against David Ortiz were two pretty abysmal calls. One was close, the other was flat out bad.
Let’s set the scene.
The Red Sox trailed 3-2 and were batting in the top of the ninth. Former Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller had come in to try and nail down his sixth save of the season.
Three singles and a strikeout later, the bases were loaded and David Ortiz strolled to the plate.
To say the situation was “not ideal” for the Yankees and Miller would have been a massive understatement.
Everyone knows what happened. Ortiz worked a 3-1 count and then somehow was called out on strikes after watching two pitches that were almost certainly balls whiz by.
One called strike (the first one) was maybe borderline, the other was simply a “ball.”
In the end it didn’t matter. The Red Sox were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position, they left 12 men on base, which means that entering the ninth they had left nine men on the bases. The Red Sox definitely should have tied the game in the ninth, but that wouldn’t have assured them of a win.
Based on the amount of men left on base, one can make a case that perhaps the Red Sox never should have been trailing in the ninth to begin with.
Then there’s the David Ortiz meltdown. He’s a human being and he’s got a temper and let’s be honest here, he had good reasons to be upset. That being said, has any umpire in the history of major league baseball ever reversed a called-strike based on the level of disproval from an angry batter? That wasn’t going to happen, and Ortiz knew it would never happen.
Ortiz will be fined, and that’s not a big deal, but he could potentially be suspended and that would be a big deal. The Red Sox need Ortiz, he’s off to a monstrous start. He’s one of the most lethal hitters in the American League. Ortiz is second in ops (1.050) he’s second in runs batted in (25) and third in doubles (12.)
Ortiz’s tantrum likely channelled the way almost all Red Sox fans were feeling at the time. Every Red Sox fan wanted to charge at home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, call him names, scream at him etc etc. To that extent Ortiz’s reaction was probably embraced by most fans.
That’s not going to be the case if he’s forced to sit out a game or more. Hanley Ramirez still had a chance to atone for the injustice of Ortiz’s strikeout, but he too fell victim to a strikeout, and that ended the game.
The Red Sox loss has them percentage points behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The Yankees are now six games out of first.
The two teams will resume their rivalry Saturday afternoon in the Bronx at 1:05 pm ET.
David Price (4-0, 6.14) will take the mound for the Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 5.46) will pitch for the Yankees.