It has been a rough week for MLB umpires. First it was Angel Hernandez missing an obvious call via video replay but now Fieldin Culbreth's crew is under intense scrutiny as they completely botched one of the most basic rules in baseball.
The incident took place in the seventh inning of Houston's game against the Angels. Astros manager brought in Wesley Wright to face lefty J.B. Shuck. Wright came in made and his warm-up pitchers but when the Angels predictably pinch-hit for Shuck, Porter decided to bring in right-hand pitcher Hector Ambriz. That is a smart tactical decision except for the fact that, well, it is completely and totally against the rules. As you might expect, Angel manager Mike Scioscia flipped his lid at Porter's move because not only was it illegal but the umpiring crew, after much discussion, decided to allow it. Oy.
See for yourself.
Mike Scioscia and the Angels officially played the rest of the game under protest, though it was later dropped since the Angels went on to win, which is a blessing in disguise for MLB who would've had no choice but to uphold the protest. No protest has been upheld since 1986.
No doubt you are wondering how this all happened. Well, this is where things get even better. Here is how Bo Porter explained the situation.
Porter says if there's a pinch hitter, you have a right to bring in another pitcher.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) May 10, 2013
In case you, like the umpiring crew, were unaware, is absolutely not true. Per Rule 3.05(b):
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.
Wright was not hurt. There is no ambiguity here. Bo Porter is an MLB manager and just plain doesn't know the rules of the game, which is fairly dumbfounding. Not nearly as dumbfounding as the umpires allowing it to happen though.
When asked for comment on what exactly happened on that ruling, crew chief Culbreth refused to answer any and all question on the matter hiding behind the excuse that all inquiries related to protest situations can only be commented on by the league office.
There, of course, will be no protest, but with such a glaring mistake, we can expect to hear from the league office soon. It will be interesting to see if they find some half-assed excuse to back the umpiring crew or do like they did with Angel Hernandez and somehow beg this off as part of the "human element" of the game.