Friday, May 10, 2013
Will MLB hold umps accountable?
By Buster Olney
|Mike Scioscia was vexed.|
The look and tone that Angels manager Mike Scioscia aimed at the umpires in Houston on Thursday night reminded you of a third-grade teacher admonishing students over a paper airplane thrown across the room.
Scioscia’s language, however, was a little bit more PG-13 than elementary school.
“You gotta be s------- me,” Scioscia said, staring out at the umpires with incredulity.
We still don’t know why the umpires allowed Houston manager Bo Porter to relieve Wesley Wright without the left-hander having faced a single hitter; Fieldin Culbreth would not give an explanation for the call that was made, as Alden Gonzalez writes.
Based on what Porter and Scioscia said after the game, the switch did not involve an injury to Wright. It may well be that the umpires botched a basic rule that is used at every level from Little League to the majors. If a pitcher is summoned into a game as a reliever, then Rule 3.05 (b) applies:
If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.
In short: A reliever must face at least one hitter before being relieved. This rule is as ingrained in the sport as three strikes equals an out.
Again, we’d like to hear from the umpires before rendering a final sentence. But if this was a case of the rule being misinterpreted, Scioscia’s tone and words were more than appropriate, and for the second straight day, Major League Baseball may have to issue a statement saying its umpires made an egregious mistake.
The first MLB mea culpa came Thursday after the inexplicable call on Adam Rosales’ would-be home run that was ruled a double by Angel Hernandez and his crew late Wednesday night.
Major League Baseball regularly reviews plays with umpires, as VP Peter Woodfork explained on the podcast earlier this year. Presumably, MLB supervisor Randy Marsh sat down with Hernandez and his crew after arriving in Cleveland on Thursday and looked at the replay, again, of Rosales’ would-be home run.
Presumably, this question was asked: "What are you seeing here [that the rest of the world does not see]?"
If the answer included the word “inconclusive,” I’m not sure where MLB goes from here. Because the sky is blue, day is not night, and left-handed pitchers are not right-handed pitchers.
The umpires need to be held accountable for their mistakes, writes Joel Sherman. Marsh told Susan Slusser that the umpires get the same video feed as everybody else, because it’s not as if MLB would employ a completely different set of cameramen to aid with replay. The umpires see the same stuff that the broadcasters do, and during the Oakland-Cleveland game, the broadcasters were unanimous in their interpretation of what happened -- as the rest of us were.
Bob Melvin spoke with Major League Baseball. We talked with Slusser and Tim Kurkjian about the umpires’ decision on the podcast.
Wright says he was surprised when Porter came to take him out of the game.
• The last time the Yankees finished out of the top 10 in runs scored was 1991, and this morning, they rank 18th among 30 teams in runs -- and incredibly, they are in first place. The players they acquired this spring have contributed significantly, from Travis Hafner to Vernon Wells to Lyle Overbay, and the strong start has the Yankees in an excellent early-season position as they await the return of Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira and others.
We saw this kind of thing a year ago, from the Los Angeles Dodgers. In mid-May, they were 34-14, in spite of a whole lot of injuries. They got good pitching, without much offensive firepower -- and ultimately, it didn’t last. This is why the reinforcements are needed by the Yankees, ASAP.
From Elias: Robinson Cano reached 1,500 hits eight years and six days after his major league debut on May 3, 2005. That is the shortest span from a player’s first big league game to 1,500 hits for the Yankees. Derek Jeter had the previous record, doing so in eight years and 79 days. The only active players who made it to that milestone more quickly than Cano -- in terms of days after their first career game -- are Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols and Juan Pierre.
Incredibly, the Yankees and Rockies combined for 11 runs in three games, as Mark Feinsand writes.
• Lost amid the replay controversy in Cleveland this week was the fact that the Indians bulldozed Oakland in four games, continuing their hot streak. They hammered the Athletics, and now they’re getting Michael Bourn back from the disabled list, as Dennis Manoloff writes.
Look at the Cleveland offense and its major league rank (parentheses) over the past 11 games:
BA: .319 (1st)
R: 76 (1st)
HR: 24 (1st)
OPS: .946 (1st)
And the pitching over the same period:
ERA: 2.34 (1st)
Opp BA: .197 (1st)
K%: 24.0 (3rd)
Opp OPS: .583 (2nd)
From Elias: Scott Kazmir struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, while Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds all hit home runs in the Indians’ 9-2 win over the Athletics. It was the first time in Indians history that a pitcher recorded at least 10 strikeouts, with no walks, and three Cleveland players hit home runs.
Remember the days -- not long ago -- when Kazmir struggled to hit 90 mph with his fastball? Well, consider the following numbers. From ESPN Stats & Info:
A. Kazmir threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 23 hitters (82.6%), his highest percentage in a start in the past five seasons. Kazmir went to a 2-0 and 3-1 count on just one hitter (Derek Norris), and did not go to a 3-0 count all game.
B. His fastball averaged 92.6 mph, his fastest in a start this season. It topped out at 95.5 mph, the fastest pitch he has thrown since Sept. 23, 2009. Oakland hitters were 2-for-13 in at-bats ending with the fastball, including six strikeouts.
C. He recorded 19 missed swings, including 13 on pitches in the strike zone, both of which are his most in a start in the past five seasons. Thirteen of the 19 missed swings came against the fastball.
• A Twins rookie homered on his 22nd birthday, and Minnesota is now 16-15. Their start might be the most surprising in baseball, considering the state of their pitching this winter. Meanwhile, Kyle Gibson is getting ready for a promotion to the big leagues.
• Zack Greinke could be back next week, as Dylan Hernandez writes. And not a moment too soon, because the Dodgers stink right now and desperately need all the help they can get.
Dings and dents
1. Jayson Werth is going to get one more day of rest, writes James Wagner. The Nationals look like late bloomers, writes Thomas Boswell.
2. Roy Halladay will have his surgery next week.
3. Jason Heyward began his rehabilitation assignment.
4. Johnny Cueto went three innings in his rehab start.
5. The Brewers’ Mark Rogers needs an MRI.
6. Joel Hanrahan was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Wrote here a couple of weeks ago that the Mets have just wanted to see Zack Wheeler succeed to the point where they could have confidence he wouldn’t slump and need to go back to the minors. Here’s more on that from Andy Martino.
2. A lineup change paid off for the Mets, as Jorge Arangure writes.
3. Ricky Romero was sent back to the minors.
4. The Marlins will have some hard decisions coming up, writes Juan Rodriguez.
5. Felix Doubront is being moved back into the Boston rotation.
1. The Royals finished their series in Baltimore with a win, thanks to Jeremy Guthrie.
From Elias: Jeremy Guthrie improved to 5-0 this season with a victory over the Orioles after he ended 2012 with five consecutive wins. He’s the third pitcher in the past 10 seasons to win his first five decisions after ending the previous campaign with a winning streak of five or more games. The others were Jose Contreras (2005-06 White Sox) and Lance Lynn (2012-13 Cardinals).
A lineup change helped the Royals, with Alex Gordon moving into the No. 3 spot. It looked good, said Ned Yost.
2. Josh Hamilton slugged a homer, and the Angels beat the Astros. From ESPN Stats & Info: Hamilton has hit .304 with four home runs against Houston. He has hit .195 with zero home runs against everyone else.
3. The Nationals had a nice series win against Detroit.
4. Detroit had a tough visit through Washington.
5. The Blue Jays lost a walk-off, literally.
6. Craig Kimbrel picked up his 100th save, as David O’Brien writes.
• From Elias: Mike Baxter, for the second time in three days, hit a game-ending pinch-hit single to give the Mets a win. His 10th-inning hit defeated the White Sox on Tuesday night and his bottom-of-the-ninth single bested the Pirates on Thursday night. Baxter is the first player since Jacoby Ellsbury in August 2011 to produce a walk-off RBI twice in a three-game span. (Ellsbury did so in consecutive games.) But nobody had done that as a pinch-hitter since 1991, when Rafael Ramirez came off the bench to deliver game-ending hits in back-to-back Astros victories.
• Jason Grilli is not perfect.
• A.J. Burnett continues to shine, writes Bill Brink.
• A rare day off seems to have helped Andrew McCutchen.
• The Cardinals have been playing solid defense, writes Rick Hummel.
• Jean Segura aims to make the most of his talents, as Lori Nickel writes.
• The Cubs are relying more on sabermetrics.
• The Diamondbacks won again, and continue to get strong work out of Patrick Corbin. From ESPN Stats & Info, how he beat the Phillies Thursday night:
A. He threw a season-low 17 pitches with two strikes, and Phillies hitters were 0-for-10 in two-strike at-bats. Threw six two-strike curveballs and recorded four outs, including three strikeouts.
B. He did not allow an extra-base hit for the first time this season. Thirteen of the 18 balls put in play against Corbin were grounders (72.2 percent), including 10 of 12 fastballs (83.3 percent).
C. The Phillies hitters were 1-for-8 against Corbin with runners on base, and 0-for-3 with RISP. Only three runners reached second base with Corbin in the game, and only one reached third.
D. Phillies hitters were 0-for-7 in at-bats ending with a pitch out of the strike zone, including all four of his strikeouts.
• The problems for Ryan Vogelsong continue. Vogelsong says he’ll work through this, as Alex Pavlovic writes.
• The Rockies were shut down, as Troy Renck writes.
• Brandon Gomes is glad to be with the Rays, writes Marc Topkin.
• The White Sox haven’t been hitting much.
• Jon Daniels deserves credit for not overreacting, writes Tim Cowlishaw.
• Ian Kinsler put in extra time to work his way back.
• Oakland is happy to get out of Cleveland.
• The Astros missed a chance for a sweep, as Jesus Ortiz writes.
• Jason Bay is getting back to basics.
• Seattle prospect Mike Zunino continues to hit well.
• David Ortiz is really upset with Dan Shaughnessy.
• Tony La Russa says, again, that he will not manage again.
• The Rays will wear camouflage.
• Nobody has managed the Phillies longer than Charlie Manuel, writes Matt Gelb.
• Tyson Ross’s mom worked really hard, as Corey Brock writes.
And today will be better than yesterday.