The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the ninth inning trailing the St. Louis Cardinals by three runs on Saturday, but they started a rally which gave them a chance to win a second consecutive game.
Miguel Vargas opened the inning with a double and David Peralta singled to put runners at the corners. Jason Heyward then added a double of his own to cut the Cardinals’ lead to two runs and put the tying run on second base.
James Outman lined out but Will Smith hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to one run with Heyward still on second base. Mookie Betts worked the count to 3-2 and took a pitch clearly off the plate, which should have been ball four.
Instead, home-plate umpire Paul Emmel called it strike three, and that ended the game. While it was surely frustrating for Betts, he wants to forget about it and move on, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“Nothing we can do about it. It’s over with now,” Betts said. “He called it. Nothing you can do. He called it a strike. Can’t take it back.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was also disappointed by the call and what it could have meant for the Dodgers if Betts was given his free base, which would have brought up Freddie Freeman with a chance to tie, or even win the game:
“He missed it,” Roberts said. “Everyone is trying to compete, all of us. And it’s unfortunate that missed call determined the finality of that game. It was a great at-bat. It’s unfortunate.
“Looking back, it was a buffer zone pitch, which gives them a little latitude off the plate,” Roberts said. “But that certainly changed the inning too. But again, that’s just one of those things where, you just hate to see the game determined by someone who’s not wearing a player’s uniform.”
The Dodgers ended up losing the game by a score of 6-5, which sets up the finale that would either tie the series for the Dodgers or win the four-game set for the Cardinals.
Even after the loss, the Dodgers still hold the best record in the National League, one game over the Atlanta Braves, and a 2.5-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.
OKC Dodgers part of MLB testing automated strike zone in Triple-A games
League officials and MLB have been advocating and testing the use of proverbial robot umpires since 2019, and prior to last season, they were gathering data from independent baseball leagues, and most recently, equipping numerous ballparks at Spring Training sites, Low-A and 13 Triple-A clubs with the technology.
MLB and the Players Association didn’t agree on its use at the big league level, which is why it wasn’t included in their collective bargaining agreement, which ended the MLB lockout last year.
Although the Automated Balls and Strikes system isn’t part of MLB games this year season, the league has put it to use throughout the highest level of Minor League Baseball, which could signal it’s on it’s way to the Majors at some point in the next few years.
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