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The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Texas Rangers 5-4 Monday on a dispute strike called on Ben Zobrist to end the game.
The count was full as Joe Nathan was facing Zobrist with a man on first and two outs in the top of the ninth. Nathan threw a breaking ball that dipped down and appeared to tail out of the strike zone. Home plate umpire Marty Foster thought it was a strike and called out Zobrist to end the game.
Rays manager Joe Maddon couldn’t believe the call. He came running out of the dugout to plead with Foster as the fireworks went off at the Ballpark in Arlington. He got in the umpire’s face, but it was no use. Nathan was credited for his 300th career save, and all Maddon could do was vent after the game.
That can’t happen in a major league game.
— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) April 9, 2013
The look on Nathan’s face should have tipped you off that it was a bad call; he knew he got away with one. The thing is, the ball was actually within the strike zone in terms of height when it crossed the plate. Zobrist’s issue is that it was outside by a few inches. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski jabbing at the ball and pushing his glove toward the dirt made the call look much worse than it was. The Fox Trax shows you where the pitch was:
Foster did admit his mistake after the game.
“I saw the pitch and of course don’t have the chance to do it again,” Foster said. “But had I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike.”
Texas caught a break, but the call wasn’t as bad as others we have seen. I wouldn’t even call that egregious.