Major League Baseball is having itself an umpire crisis this week, and the men in blue are now beginning to feel the heat.
Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth has been suspended two games by the league and fined an undisclosed amount for the misapplication of Official Baseball Rule 3.05(b). Culbreth and his crew allowed Houston to make consecutive pitching changes in the seventh inning of Thursday’s Angels-Astros game. The other members of Culbreth’s crew — Brian O’Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson — were fined by the league but not suspended.
According to a statement by the league, Rule 3.05(b) states:
“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.”
The Angels eventually won the game while playing under protest, but as a result of the victory the protest (which Los Angeles likely would have won) was dropped.
For his part, Astros manager Bo Porter apologized for not knowing the rule himself and for putting the umpires in a compromising position.