Thursday, May 28, 2009

A bad day for an ump

Todd Tichenor is umping home plate today in the Red Sox-Twins game at the Dome, and he's not having a good day.

The seventh inning just ended. In the top of the seventh, he butchered a play at the plate — Jason Kubel threw out Jeff Bailey, but Tichenor missed the call. Then Tichenor threw out Mike Redmond. Then he threw out Ron Gardenhire. Since Joe Mauer was the DH and had to go into the game to catch, the Twins lost their DH.

In the bottom of the seventh, Tichenor — whose strike zone has wandered considerably all game — called a ball on Brandon Harris, and Josh Beckett said a naughty word. Loudly. When everything was over in that rhubarb, Boston catcher Jason Veritek and manager Terry Francona were ejected, with Francona delivering a variety of emphatic hand gestures vividly describing Tichenor's ball-strike calls. Unlike Gardenhire, Francona is not known for getting ejected.

I believe Tichenor is a vacation fill-in ump, not a full timer. I know I was looking at the crew at the start of the series and wondered who the crew chief is. Jerry Layne, I suppose. It certainly is not a veteran crew; Chris Guccione might be a fill-in too. Anyway, you've got to figure: An ump runs four players/managers, he's having a bad day.

Update: Game over. The run on the Bailey play didn't beat the Twins. How the game would have run with better ball-strike calling, that's completely unknowable.

Of interest, given this morning's post, is how the Twins bullpen fared, and how Gardenhire deployed them.

Anthony Swarzak started, pitched pretty well, left in the seventh having given up a homer and bloop double. Jesse Crain entered, faced one batter, got a fly to right on a 3-2 count that moved Bailey to third. Out went Crain (a week of rest and just six pitches, half of them balls), in came Henn.

Gardy probably had this in mind: Henn gets Jacoby Ellsbury, they walk Dustin Pedroia intentionally, then Henn goes after J.D. Drew. That would be classic LOOGY use. Henn, however, plunked Ellsbury with the 2-2 pitch. Now he had pitch to Pedroia — who hit the fly to right that started the ejection runaround. That's the second out, and Drew hit the first pitch to second to end the inning.

In for the eighth (and ninth) comes Luis Ayala. He faced just six hitters, gave up one hit, got a double play.

What I take from this:

1) Crain is on a much shorter leash right now than he was 10 days ago.

2) Henn hasn't pitched enough yet to establish whether he's a good LOOGY candidate, but: He's now faced nine right handed hitters, and none have gotten a hit. Two walks, Pedroia's disputable sac fly, and 0-for-6 in official at-bats. Lefties are 3-for-8 with a HBP and two doubles. That's a .444 OPB and .556 SLG. And going that far inside on the 2-2 pitch to Ellsbury wasn't good. The best that could happen was going to 3-2.

3) Ayala's results look good, but three of the six outs were air outs, which doesn't suggest that he has rediscovered his good sinker. He did throw strikes, however — 12 strikes, two balls in his 14 pitches.

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