Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Umpires Use Replay To Check Count, Get It Wrong Anyway

Yunel Escobar struck out on a 4-2 pitch, which is a good sign that something went horribly wrong.

I'm on record as saying umpires using replay because they forgot balls and strikes to be the darkest moment in baseball history, but what happened at the Trop last night was a little different. With the count 2-1 (everyone agreed up to that point), Samuel Deduno's pitch deflected off Kurt Suzuki's glove, while Escobar checked his swing. It looked, at first glance, like it could have been a foul ball—Escobar checked with home plate umpire Paul Schrieber to make sure it wasn't. Ball three.

We know the count was 3-1 on the field and not 2-2, because Escobar took a called strike on the next pitch. Deduno, who thought the 2-1 pitch had been fouled off, wondered why it wasn't a strikeout. Then, with a full count, Escobar took ball four. Except he wasn't given the walk.


With the count unofficially 4-2, umpires met to clear things up. They went to the replay, reviewed every pitch of the at-bat, and then inexplicably continued the at-bat with a 3-2 count. Joe Maddon was baffled.

"By reviewing that, it was either he struck out or he walked," Maddon said. "There was no other option. The at-bat could not continue. But the umpire said, 'Full count.'"

Escobar then struck out on a borderline strike call, but it didn't end up mattering, as the Rays went on to beat the Twins 7-3. (That's the score, not a ball/strike count.)

MLB later admitted the umpiring mistake, saying in a statement: "An error was made when replay officials and supervisors mistakenly thought one of the pitches was a foul ball, when it was actually a ball." But! If that was the case, Escobar should have been struck out on the (ostensible) 2-2 pitch. By rule of law, one of Deduno's pitches never happened. Unsettling, in an existential sort of way.

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