The Rangers beat the Rays, 5-4, in Arlington last night, Stony Brook alum Joe Nathan closing the game to earn his 300th career save.
But Nathan got a controversial assist on the milestone from home plate umpire Marty Foster.
With two outs in the ninth, a runner on first, Evan Longoria (3-for-3) on deck, the Rays down by a run and a full count on batter Ben Zobrist, Nathan fired a breaking ball low and away. Zobrist threw his bat and started to turn towards the first base line to take his walk. The Rangers TV announcers called it Ball 4. But the only opinion that mattered - Foster's - took a second to decide and then signaled strike, eliciting surprise from the announcers and exasperation from Zobrist and Rays skipper Joe Maddon. Here's the call:
Even before Maddon gave his postgame interview, he tweeted his feelings from his verified account:
That can't happen in a major league game.— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) April 9, 2013
Here's Maddon and Zobrist talking after the game:
To his credit, Foster owned up to the blown call following the game.
“I saw the pitch and, of course I don’t have the chance to do it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike,” Foster said. “Joe was not violent. Joe was very professional. He was frustrated and I understand. He acted probably the best he can under that situation.”