The Pittsburgh Pirates have become America’s darling with unexpected success this year, but their feel-good story had a controversial and unsettling chapter last night.
The Buccos fought the Atlanta Braves 19 innings before falling victim to what appears to be another blown call by an umpire at home plate in a crucial situation.
In the bottom of the 19th, with runners on second and third and one out, Braves pitcher Scott Proctor had to bat for himself. He tapped a ground ball to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who threw home to catcher Michael McKenry. McKenry appeared to tag the Braves’ Julio Lugo well before Lugo came close to the plate.
Home plate umpire Jerry Meals, however, didn’t see it that way. He ruled Lugo safe and gifted the home team a shocking and unconventional walk-off win.
The missed call ended a game that had lasted 6 hours and 39 minutes.
Proctor was only batting because Atlanta had exhausted its bench.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was understandably steamed that such an epic game came down to a glaring error.
“You’d like to see the game finished by the players, win or lose,”
Hurdle said. “And for it to end that way is as disappointing as it gets
in a game. We had every player in the game laying it out there. Two
pitchers in the bullpen threw over 80 pitches.
“For the game to
end that way, it’s really too bad. The game deserves better than that.
The game tonight deserved way better than that.”
Meals explained his call, but said that he might have gotten it wrong.
“I saw the tag, but he looked like he old him, and I called him safe
for that. I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him
on the shin area. I’m guessing he might have got him, but when I was out
there when it happened, I didn’t see a tag. I just saw the glove sweep
up. I didn’t see the glove hit his leg.”