Before you read further, please be advised that there is no argument contained within this blog post. No news, either. In fact, there isn’t really a point to this blog post, except that I was curious about something, so maybe you were curious, too, although this item doesn’t really provide any answers or any closure and will probably make you less curious than you were before, and not in an enriching way.
If you are tired of thinking about the ninth inning of Game 5 of the NLDS, you should leave. Even if you aren’t tired of that topic, you should probably leave, because this blog post has no point.
Anyhow, some people were questioning the strike zone that confronted closer Drew Storen in the top of the ninth inning of Game 5. One of those people posted a blog item about it, noting that two pitches that appeared to be inside the strike zone (according to PitchFX, see here) (or here) were called balls by home plate ump Alfonso Marquez.
One of those pitches came in the middle of an Allen Craig at-bat that ended with a strikeout, so it didn’t really matter at all. The other came on the first pitch to Yadier Molina, which came with a man on third and two outs. The ball crossed over the plate but was right at the very bottom of the strike zone, as seen in the PitchFX, the TBS strike zone graphic and the real-life view.
“Inside,” Dick Stockton said on the TBS broadcast, because why the hell not.
“That’s the second first-pitch slider that Storen has thrown in this inning that looked to be a strike,” color man Bob Brenly added. “Just didn’t get the call. And didn’t get a real good job from his catcher receiving the pitch.”
Indeed, Kurt Suzuki wound up dipping his mitt considerably to catch the slider. Molina fouled off two other pitches, and took three more balls, which became a walk, which became one more drip of rancid acid in the torture chamber that represented that inning. So if you assume the first pitch were called a strike, the sixth pitch would have been ball 3 and not ball 4, and Storen would have had one more chance during a string of chances.
That, again, is assuming that a borderline strike was called a strike and not a ball, and that nothing in the Molina at-bat would have changed after that call, and that Molina wouldn’t have homered or something on the seventh pitch.
This was hardly the most interesting umpiring decision of that series. It probably wasn’t among the 50 most interesting umpiring decisions. No one is saying it changed the outcome of the game. I’m not even sure if it’s interesting or not. But like I said, I was mildly curious, so I looked, and if you’ve made it this far, you have too.
Anyhow. Uh. Cool weather today, right? How many days until pitchers and catchers again?
(The PitchFX chart is from the catcher’s view; reverse it for your own view. Unless you were watching from behind home plate.)
(If you want the Natitudinal view of the series, you can read this item from the team’s official blog. “Any opposing fan who believes this was a one-year fluke is, at best, blissfully oblivious to what has been built in Washington,” the item reads.)