DETROIT – Because there is a place on the Internet for everything statistical in baseball, there – of course – exists a website that measures an umpire's performance. It is called Brooksbaseball.net. And if you click the tab marked "Strikezone Map Tool," and tap in the date of Saturday's first game of the American League division series, you will see that home plate umpire Jim Reynolds called 10 strikes outside of a typical strike zone against the Oakland Athletics.
These pitches would be up to a foot outside of the normal zone and they were all thrown by Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander to Oakland's left-handed hitters.
This would explain why several of those hitters stalked away from the plate, muttering at Reynolds, after striking out on strikes that were not strikes.
But it also explains part of the brilliance of a man who is probably the best pitcher in baseball: When given the gift of a strike zone wider than it should be, he knows just how to exploit it.
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