One call didn’t determine the outcome of the game, certainly not when the Cubs mustered just two runs on five hits against a decidedly mediocre Phillies staff. But the brutally awful call by home plate umpire Marty Foster to ring up Tony Kemp for the first out of the 9th inning Tuesday night was so egregious it earned even more infamy than the visiting team’s performance.
It’s one thing to be a little high or a little outside, but this 95 mph fastball from Hector Neris missed by a good margin on both fronts. While that kind of velocity might be difficult for an inexperienced ump, it’s far from extraordinary at this level. What’s more, it didn’t have the deceptive movement of a breaking pitch was not obscured by the catcher’s body.
Oof. Framing had nothing to do with this, folks, and if you’re thinking J.T. Realmuto is some kind of magician, you should stop.
It was only the Cubs’ third K of the game and it came in a pretty big moment, with Jonathan Lucroy on first after leading off the final frame with an hit-by-pitch. But given Kemp’s .230 average and .301 OBP, the at-bat might not have played out differently even had a correct call evened the count at 2-2. Nothing happened with any of the three subsequent hitters either, so, again, no real impact on the game.
Still, it’s just sooo bad. Per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, that pitch had literally no chance of being called a strike based on the history of pitches thrown in the same location. To his credit, Kemp remained calm in the box after the call, probably because he was too shocked to be angry.
According to @ESPNStatsInfo the strike 3 call on Kemp in the 9th inning had a 0.00 percent chance of being called a strike. (Based on history of that pitch)
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 14, 2019
“I’m not mad, I’m not upset,” Kemp said after the game. “We’re all human, everybody makes mistakes. It’s a tough situation no matter which way you look at it. Obviously I wish he would’ve called it a ball, but like I said, nobody’s perfect.”
Cubs fans may be starting to feel the same way about the team’s performance on the road, which has almost gotten to the point that it’s too bad to even be upset about.