Michael Conforto #30 of the Mets is awarded first base...

Michael Conforto #30 of the Mets is awarded first base with the bases loaded during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins after being hit with a pitch at Citi Field on Thursday, Apr. 8, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he bets umpire Ron Kulpa "feels awful" about the game-ending hit-by-pitch call on Michael Conforto in the Mets’ 3-2 victory over the Marlins at Citi Field on Thursday.

Kulpa, in an interview with a pool reporter from Newsday after the game, didn’t say if he felt awful or not.

But he did admit he blew the call that allowed the Mets to win their home opener.

"The guy was hit by the pitch in the strike zone," Kulpa said. "I should have called him out."

So yes, the 21-year veteran did offer a mea Kulpa. But the Mets still get to keep the win.

Before Kulpa spoke, Mattingly said he didn’t expect the Marlins to protest the ninth-inning mistake because it was a judgment call by the umpire.

"I think it’s just move on," the former Yankees star said. "I’m sure they’ll come out, have something to say about it. But that’s done. I don’t think it’s going to change. They’ve already given them the win."

 

Asked if he thought there was anything that could be done for the Marlins, Kulpa said: "That’s it. I mean, that’s the way it went down and there’s nothing more than that."

Kulpa initially started to call strike three on Conforto on a 1-and-2 pitch from Anthony Bass with one out, the bases loaded and the score tied at 2. But Kulpa changed his call midstream and repeatedly slapped his left arm with his right hand to indicate the ball had hit Conforto on the right elbow pad, allowing the winning run to score.

"He was awarded first base because he was hit by the pitch," Kulpa said. "And that’s what we went with and that’s why we went to video review."

Mattingly charged out of the third-base dugout and asked the umpires to get together and rule that Conforto’s elbow pad was in the strike zone when the ball grazed him. Mattingly said the umpires declined to do that and were willing to ask the replay center only if the pitch hit Conforto.

After a 58-second replay review, the call was confirmed and the Marlins fell to 1-6.

"It’s one of those plays," Kulpa said. "We looked at the video afterward and it’s one of those plays where it looked like the guy was hit . . . he was hit by the pitch in the strike zone."

Said Mattingly: "Honestly, he’s probably feeling bad. To be honest with you, I bet he feels awful. Because they don’t want to do that, either. They don’t want to mess the game — not necessarily mess the game — but they don’t want an end like that."

Kulpa confirmed that the only aspect of the play that was being looked at on video replay was whether the ball hit Conforto. A supervisor at the MLB replay center determined that it had.

Said Mattingly: "It’s just frustrating, I think more than anything, that the ball’s a strike. And he went to call it a strike. It seems like if it’s in the strike zone when you get hit, it should be a strike, and you really can’t say he got hit by a pitch . . . So I’m like, which one is it? Was the strike first or did it hit him first? It was a strike. So if it’s a strike, how can it be a hit by pitch?"