The Los Angeles Angels have had a rough start to their series against the Seattle Mariners. Seattle won Monday’s game 6-2, despite being tied 2-2 heading into the ninth. On Tuesday, the Mariners led 3-2 going into the ninth and won 8-2. The Angels have had their own struggles to work around but have also been given no favors by the umpires.
On Monday, Seattle’s Carlos Santana walked on three balls, thanks to a mistake made by home plate umpire Laz Díaz. But while Díaz made an egregious mistake, the Angels share some blame. Nobody asked for a review of the count, protested the game or even seemed to notice. Tuesday’s mistake was noticed and was almost as bad. Unfortunately for the Angels, balls and strikes aren’t reviewable.
With one out in the ninth inning, Angels pitcher Jesse Chavez was facing Eugenio Suárez. Chavez’s 2-2 pitch was a seemingly obvious strike, only home plate umpire Brian O’Nora didn’t agree.
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) August 17, 2022
Suárez ended up walking. Had that pitch been called correctly, the J.P. Crawford’s flyout would have ended the inning and given the Angels a puncher’s chance, down only 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. As it was, happened, Crawford’s flyout was only the second out. After Curt Casali singled, Adam Frazier drove in two with a triple and scored on an RBI single from Sam Haggerty. Then, to top it all off, Julio Rodríguez hit a two-run homer.
JULIOOOOOOO 💣 pic.twitter.com/CbMnGXEX1P
— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) August 17, 2022
The home run made it 8-2, which stood as the final.
This call was not inconsequential and fans were not happy.
We’re all pretty sure the inning would have looked very different if this had actually been called strike 3 right? https://t.co/tPJpB1N6Ti
— Catarina Paton (@kit_catarina) August 17, 2022
— Chill n Drive (@ChillnDrive7) August 17, 2022
— えむじぇー (@peace_out_083) August 17, 2022
Chavez also weighed in on the matter after the game.
Here’s Jesse Chavez’s full (and understandably frustrated) answer about HP ump Brian O’Nora missing a strike three call in the ninth.
The Mariners went on to score 5 runs. pic.twitter.com/WF4GGdQCJS
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) August 17, 2022
If there are any Mariners fans out there feeling defensive about their team’s win, relax. We’re not litigating the win. Chavez still had a chance to retire Suárez and even after the walk, could have gotten out of the inning. Also, the Angels went down in order in the ninth inning. Their three hitters were a collective 0-for-8 on the night. So, even if everything had gone swimmingly for the Halos in the top of the inning, there’s no reason to think that the bottom would have been any different.
But while Seattle’s win isn’t being put on trial, O’Nora’s mistake can’t be ignored. Chavez’s pitch was not on a corner. It also didn’t have a lot of break into or out of the strike zone. It was a strike from the moment it left Chavez’s hand. For O’Nora, this pitch was a gimmie. He couldn’t handle it. That’s bad and it’s only going to make the calls for automated strike zones even louder.
Players, managers, and coaches are getting tired of these happening so frequently. They’re not alone. The fans are just as sick of it. If and when it happens in a playoff game, the frustration will only be louder.