A's season-saving win in Game 2 aided by controversial call originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
But they got a little help from home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski along the way.
With the A's up 5-0 in the top of the eighth inning, manager Bob Melvin decided to go with closer Liam Hendriks to try to get the final six outs of a do-or-die game for Oakland.
Tim Anderson greeted Hendriks with a single and Yasmani Grandal crushed a one-out, two-run homer two batters later to cut the A's lead to 5-2. After another single by José Abreu, things got interesting.
Hendriks' seventh pitch of the at-bat appeared to be ball four, but Muchlinski wrung up Mazara on strike three. The pitch clearly was off the plate.
Mike Muchlinski's strike-three call on Nomar Mazara in the top of the 8th halted the White Sox rally (pitch No. 7). pic.twitter.com/s2xjpiGvZE— Ali Thanawalla (@Ali_Thanawalla) September 30, 2020
Poor Nomar Mazara. He was at the plate as the tying run in the regular-season finale on Sunday and was called out strikes then, too. pic.twitter.com/cNTKU9qUL9— Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) September 30, 2020
Nomar Mazara has not deserved his last two strikeouts— James Fegan (@JRFegan) September 30, 2020
The White Sox bench was not happy with the call and let Muchlinski know about it.
Home plate ump to someone on the White Sox bench: "I don't want to hear from you!" Sometimes it's fun not to have a crowd.— Phil Barber (@Skinny_Post) September 30, 2020
ESPN broadcasters Dave Fleming and Jessica Mendoza didn't agree with the call and voiced their displeasure.
"Wow, the call went Hendriks' way," Fleming said. "[Mazara] was convinced that was ball four and Muchlinski wrung him up. My goodness, what a break for the A's."
"That's a ball, it's off the plate, it's inside, but it's good location," Mendoza said as the broadcast showed several replays. "You see where it is, about an inch-and-a-half off the plate, in and that is a tough pitch for strike three if you're Nomar Mazara."
Fleming and Mendoza emphasized that if the pitcher had been called a ball, the A's would have been bad situation.
"At that point, the A's are squirming, one swing away from a tie game," Fleming said.
Robert would strike out to end the eighth, snuffing out the rally with just two runs scored.
The White Sox again threatened in the top of the ninth, scoring a run on a bases-loaded walk to Grandal by Jake Diekman. But Abreu couldn't come through with the bases loaded, grounding out to second base to end the game.
We'll never know if the White Sox would have tied the game or taken the lead had Mazara walked in the eighth. But we do know that the A's greatly benefited from the call.
Now, the A's and White Sox will play a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday at 12 p.m. PT.