He's a catcher, so Chris Stewart of the New York Yankees isn't someone you'd suspect of losing track of the count while batting. In his position, you have to be hyper-alert about what's going in the game, and that's not the kind of thing you turn off when you step into the batter's box.
That's what made Stewart's at-bat during the second inning of Thursday's Yankees-Baltimore Orioles game even more odd. Stewart watched the first pitch from Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen go past him for a ball. He fouled off the next pitch, then swung and missed at another, making the count one ball and two strikes. Then, surprisingly, Stewart turned around and walked back to the dugout. He was out. At least, that's what he had decided.
Nobody stopped Stewart. Not the umpire. Not his teammates and certainly not the Orioles.
" I was shocked when he walked out of the box," Chen told MLB.com. "He gives me an out, I'll take it. It's part of baseball."
The game went on. Stewart had "struck out swinging" — kind of. If you rounded up. Afterward, we learned the confusion arose because Stewart just thought the first pitch of his at-bat was a strike.
"[Home plate umpire Jim Wolf] said something the first pitch, and I thought he called it a strike," Stewart said. "I assumed it was 0-1, I fouled a ball off and I swung and missed at a ball. No one said anything; the umpire didn't say anything, so I just came on back to the dugout and put my stuff away."
Then Stewart delivered a classic response — a baseball version of "I would have beat that guy up if all these people weren't holding me back."
"The good thing is, we ended up winning and it doesn't mean anything. But I would've hit a home run if I'd stayed there."
That is, if he didn't stop his home-run trot at third base and just walk back to the dugout.