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Umpire Marty Foster later admitted he was wrong, but his contrition mattered little to the Tampa Bay Rays, who found themselves on the bad end of a worse call in a 5-4 loss Monday night to the Texas Rangers. Just listening to the descriptions by the radio/TV guys in the highlight reel tells you everything you need to know.
The Rays had rallied for a run with two outs against Joe Nathan, who was seeking career save No. 300, when slugger Ben Zobrist worked the count full. Zobrist did well to not swing at the fateful pitch, which was low and outside — so much so that catcher A.J. Pierzynski had to lunge for it with his mitt. Most in the ballpark assumed it was ball four, but after a momentary deliberation, Foster rung up Zobrist, who stopped his trot to first, turned around, grabbed his helmet with both hands and placed it on the ground. Even the Rangers acted surprised — Nathan can be seen mouthing "Wow" right after the call — but the Rays were incredulous:
That can't happen in a major league game.
— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) April 9, 2013
Zobrist, a kind-hearted fellow who knows the strike zone as well as any hitter, later seemed on the verge of forgiveness but offered this ominous caveat:
''Umpires make mistakes just like players do. It was a tough time to have a bad call,'' Zobrist said. ''I hope it doesn't ending up costing us playoffs in the end. I know it's the first week of the season. But every win is important and we might have had a chance to win that one. Everybody makes mistakes. What are you going to do?''
Foster owned up to the mistake, for what it's worth:
''I saw the pitch and of course don't have the chance to do it again,'' Foster told a pool reporter after the game. ''But had I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn't call that pitch a strike.''
Well that's just GREAT, Marty. MLB is known to keep umpire discipline quiet, but a couple of weeks in the International League might do Foster some good. That won't happen, of course.
• Mariners 3, Astros 0: Hello, Kendrys Morales's head, hello!
• Reds 13, Cardinals 4: How about a nine-run ninth inning to ruin St. Louis' home opener? OK, Reds say.
• Braves 2, Marlins 0: Slugger Justin Upton has six home runs already and the Braves are 6-1. The Marlins have none of that.
• Mets 7, Phillies 2: All right, everyone come get their licks in against Roy Halladay.
• Pirates 5, D-backs 3: Led by Andrew McCutchen, the Bucs stopped a five-game losing streak.
• Red Sox 3, Orioles 1: Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz has found a groove. Dance with him.
• Brewers 7, Cubs 4: Hey, the Pirates aren't the only team capable of stopping a five-game losing streak, just so you know. Save for Jim Henderson.
• Royals 3, Twins 1: Kansas City rallied for three runs in the eighth after Ervin Santana kept them close.
"Better later than never. I know we are going to score runs."
Brewers slugger Carlos Gomez blames his bat for a .167 start to the season.
• The Red Sox are 5-2 and off to their best start in seven years. They've also yet to commit an error.
• Cano came in batting .130 with no extra-base hits.
• Halladay has allowed 12 runs in 7 1/3 innings so far.
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