Checked-swing call infuriates Joe Maddon, puts Rays on ropes

Angry at home plate umpire Jim Wolf much, Joe Maddon?

The Tampa Bay Rays manager had a right to be after one of the ump's compadres made an incorrect checked-swing call on Michael Young(notes) in the fifth inning of Thursday's 6-0 loss to the Rangers in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Indeed, there didn't seem to be much doubt that the Texas Rangers third baseman went around — as you can see in this screen cap grabbed by SB Nation:

A correct call from first base umpire Jerry Meals would have sent Young back to the dugout with the second out of the inning. Instead, Young stayed at the plate and hit a three-run homer off reliever Chad Qualls(notes) on the next pitch to give the Rangers a dominating 5-0 lead.

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As you might imagine, the call did not go over well with the crowd at Tropicana Field. Maddon came out to argue with Wolf and earned a prompt ejection after showering the umpire with profanities. Starter James Shields(notes) screamed at Meals before storming from the dugout into the clubhouse and pitcher Matt Garza(notes) also joined in the barking. Rays fans started chanting "replay," though I've never quite heard anyone call for replay on balls/strikes or checked swings before.

Here's crew chief Tim Welke's response to the situation after the game (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram):

"First base umpire Jerry Meals used his judgement. Obviously it's a judgment call. He felt it was close, but he felt he didn't go, and that's what he said."

Is there a line of demarcation on how far a hitter can go: "No. It's either a swing or not a swing, and his judgement is he didn't swing."

There's no doubt that was a tough break for the Rays — who now head to Texas facing elimination in Game 3 — but considering the way their offense went missing for the second straight game, it ended up being irrelevant.

Joe Maddon didn't make much of the situation in his postgame press conference, nor should he have. The Rays only had two hits all game and you can't complain about the opponent's score moving from two to five, after all, if you never eventually got to two runs yourselves.

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