It’s been a bad, bad week for Major League Baseball umpires.
On Wednesday, Angel Hernandez and the crew of the Athletics-Indians series made one of the worst judgment calls (even after viewing replay) you’ll ever see, turning an Adam Rosales home run into a double. However, judgement calls are one thing, but not knowing a basic rule about pitcher substitutions is something else.
That’s what happened during Thursday night’s Angels-Astros matchup in Houston. Astros manager Bo Porter brought in reliever Wesley Wright to pitch to J.B. Shuck with two outs in the top of the seventh, with Angels manager Mike Scioscia countering by pinch hitting Luis Jimenez. However, once Wright had completed his warmup tosses, Porter went back to the mound and called in Hector Ambriz from the bullpen — without Wright having ever thrown an official pitch.
In MLB’s official rulebook, 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 a batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness.”
Basically, what the rule says is that a pitcher has to throw to at least one hitter (or until the end of the inning, if it’s reached via pickoff, for instance) once he’s officially in the game. Rule 3.05 (c) clarifies that if any illegal pitching substitution is allowed (such as removing a pitcher before he’s pitched to a batter), then all resulting play is illegal.
After the second pitching change, Scioscia came out to vigorously argue, but, even after the umpiring crew huddled up three different times, the pitching change was still allowed. The Angels subsequently played the rest of the game under protest and likely would have won their appeal. However, down 5-3 at the time, Los Angeles came back to win the game 6-5, thus negating the protest.
After the game, the umpires referred all questions to the league office, while Scioscia simply reaffirmed that he was protesting the second pitching change. Porter, for his part, also doesn’t seem to know the rules of baseball, as after the game he said he believes that, after a pinch hitter comes out, he’s allowed to make another pitching change.
Check out all the craziness in the video below.