|Paul Molitor gets between catcher John Ryan Murphy|
and home plate umpire Jerry Layne after Murphy was
ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
Berrios showed the talent Monday night. The box score line isn't all that impressive -- five walks in 5.1 innings -- but home plate umpire Jerry Layne was not very good.
What's more, I'll bet he knows he had a bad day on balls and strikes, and knew it even before reviewing the daily electronic review of his calls.
The pitch that led to the ejection of catcher John Ryan Murphy -- my guess is that Layne got fooled by the reaction of Jose Altuve, who moved away from the Berrios breaking ball like it was a rattler about to strike. Berrios threw a slightly worse version of the same pitch after the rhubarb, Altuve moved away again, and Layne this time called strike three.
JRM got away in an earlier at-bat with turning around to talk to Layne, and turned his head after the Altuve pitch. The broadcasters suggested Layne was baiting Murphy, but I think Layne was relatively patient with him -- again, because Layne knew he was not doing well. Consider Dallas Kuechel, last year's Cy Young winner, who walked four men in the crucial fourth inning; Layne wasn't squeezing only the rookie.
Meyer goes tonight. His reputation for uncertain command precedes him, and he may need a better umpiring job than Layne provided on Monday. It's a good guess that Murphy will be catching again, based on the apparent back issues Kurt Suzuki caught with after the ejection.