The Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 Monday night in a game that was overshadowed by the last pitch. Rangers closer Joe Nathan struck out Ben Zobrist with a full-count and two outs in the bottom of the ninth to end the game, which was immediately viewed as a terrible call by home plate umpire Marty Foster.
Nathan’s pitch was well outside and nearly in the dirt, but Foster rung up Zobrist anyways to end the ball game. Rays manager Joe Maddon was furious after the call and rushed out of the dugout to confront Foster.
The strikeout wasn’t changed, nor could it be as the crucial call gave the Rangers their fifth win in six games to start the season. Foster admitted to making the terrible strike call after the game, but Maddon was still upset when talking to the media.
“That call cannot be made in a Major League baseball game,” Maddon said after the game. “It takes away our opportunity to come from behind.”
Zobrist was also frustrated with the final at-bat but understood it’s part of the game while shaking his head in the locker room. Zobrist went one-for-four on the day including the final strikeout by Joe Nathan.
The Rangers were led by first baseman Mitch Moreland, who went three-for-three with a solo home run in the fourth inning. Alexi Ogando got the start for the Rangers and gave up one run in 5.1 innings pitched to start the season with two key wins.
Jeremy Hellickson got the start for the Rays and gave up two home runs with only one strikeout for his first loss of the year. Hellickson received a no-decision in his first start in an 8-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles last Wednesday.
Joe Nathan was credited with his second save of the year after the controversial call by Marty Foster. Here’s video of Foster’s call along with a little bit of the postgame interview with Rays manager Joe Maddon:
The pitch was clearly a ball and should have ended in a walk for Zobrist and potentially give the Rays another shot to win. That’s the beauty in baseball, as there is no replay and Maddon knew the game was over before he even came out to argue.
The Rangers and Rays will face-off again Tuesday in game two of the three-game series and Roberto Hernandez will take the mound for the Rays. Nick Tepesch will make his MLB debut as the starting pitcher for the Rangers.
Will the Tampa Bay Rays rebound from the controversial game one call against the Texas Rangers in game two on Tuesday?
[Image via Creative Commons]