October 17, 2010
Roy Halladay(notes) and Tim Lincecum(notes) came into Saturday night's NLCS Game 1 as the main headliners, but it didn't take long for Derryl Cousins to try and get his name up on the marquee. The home plate umpire called an unusually tight strike zone — check out Lincecum's and Halladay's pitch charts on Brooks Baseball — and both pitchers could be seen getting visibly frustrated with some of the calls from "Missin' Cousins."
But while both pitchers had to throw under the same constrictions, one call in particular stood out as a game-changer during San Francisco's 4-3 victory over Philadelphia. With two outs in the top of the sixth inning and a runner on first, Halladay threw the pictured pitch (above) to Pat Burrell(notes) on an 0-2 count. According to "Fox Trax," the ball was right on the bottom border of the strike zone. (Brooks had it even closer.) It looked like Halladay was going to get out of the inning and he made a move toward the Phillies dugout.
It wasn't a strike in Cousins' zone, however, and the pitch was ruled a ball. Halladay revisited the area on the very next throw, but Burrell took advantage of his extended life and drilled a double to the left field gap and Buster Posey(notes) scored from first for a 3-1 Giants lead. Pinch runner Nate Schierholtz(notes) would come home to score on Juan Uribe's(notes) single on the next at-bat and San Francisco gained two insurance runs they would end up needing.
Halladay voiced his objections to Cousins after Burrell's double and it looked like Cousins said the pitch was "down."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel would only say the pitch was "close" when asked about it in his postgame press conference and Halladay said as much after the game.
"That's part of the game. If you don't get a pitch, you make a pitch on the next one."
I think that's about the right take. The pitch was borderline on an unofficial pitch tracker — not a bona fide strike to everyone's naked eye — and Halladay still had a 1-2 count before Burrell got the best of him on another good pitch.
And, like we said before, both pitchers were throwing at the same dishrag-sized target. Halladay just had the misfortune of missing it at the worst possible time.