Shelley Duncan, third-base coach Tim Foley and James Loney can’t believe their eyes.  Neither can anyone else. (L.M. Otero / AP)

The pitch, from Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan to Ben Zobrist with two outs in the top of the ninth and the Tampa Bay Rays’ tying run on first, was juuuuust a little outside.

If “juuuuust a little outside” means “close to the Waco city limits.”

But home plate umpire Marty Foster called it as he didn’t see it and strike three sealed a 5-4 loss for the Rays in Arlington, Texas, on Monday night. Afterward, Foster admitted that he’d blown the call.

“I saw the pitch and, of course, I don’t have a chance to do it again, but had I had a chance to do it again I would not have called that pitch a strike,” Foster told a pool reporter (via’s Roger Mooney).

Small consolation for the Rays, Manager Joe Maddon or Zobrist, who was thinking of playoff-race implications even though it’s only April. Maddon argued…vigorously…in the moment, but everyone knows how well that works out.

“That kind of call cannot occur. I don’t even want to say under those circumstances,” Maddon said. “The last inning, the last out of the game. I’m not even going to go there. That call can’t be made in a Major League Baseball game.” From TBO:

Maddon said from looking at Foster’s eyes while arguing that he sensed Foster knew he blew the call.

“The look in his eyes indicated, ‘Let’s run for the hills,'” Maddon said.

Maddon said Foster told him he thought the pitch was a strike but Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski did a poor job of catching the ball.

Maddon wasn’t buying it.

“To have the game stolen from you is very difficult,” he said.

Nathan got his 300th save and Jeremy Hellickson got a heartburn-inducing loss for his 26th birthday. But, hey, it could have been worse. Ask Armando Galarraga.

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