Several Red Sox and Astros players fell victim to Laz Diaz’s questionable strike zone Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
But arguably no one was robbed to a higher degree than Nathan Eovaldi.
Eovaldi, Boston’s starter for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, was called on for the ninth inning with Game 4 deadlocked at 2-2. While the right-hander worked himself into a bit of a jam, he appeared to close the frame unscathed when he dropped a 1-2 curveball on Jason Castro that painted the top right corner. But Diaz ruled the pitch a ball, giving the Houston catcher new life.
Castro took full advantage of his good break, smacking a two-out, go-ahead RBI single. The visitors opened the floodgates from there and ultimately secured a 9-2 win to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
Speaking with the media after the game, Eovaldi touched on Diaz’s gaffe.
“Yeah, I thought it was a strike, but, again, I’m in the moment,” Eovaldi told reporters, as transcribed by ASAP Sports. “I’m trying to make my pitches. I’m attacking the zone. I mean, he came in the ninth inning. I gave up a double to (Carlos) Correa, and I tried to go to work there and tried to get some outs, and prevent him from scoring. I had two strikeouts, and then facing Castro I felt like I was in control of the at-bat. I felt like I made a good pitch on the outside corner, and it didn’t go my way, but I got to come back and I got to answer back and make another good pitch. I threw a fastball, and he fouled it off, and I went with the splitter. I had a good feel for it tonight, and he put a good swing on it and got a base hit.”
As previously noted, the missed strike-three call on Castro hardly was Diaz’s only error on the evening. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Diaz had 23 (!) missed ball-strike calls Tuesday, the most of any umpire this postseason.
The Red Sox and the Astros will meet again Wednesday before the series shifts back to Houston. NESN will provide pregame and postgame coverage for Game 5, which is set to begin at 5:08 p.m. ET.