If you look at the score of this 3-2 win, you might see a pitchers duel. If you watched this game, you’ll know that it was really a battle between the Phillies, the Rockies, and home plate umpire Carlos Torres.
Before we get to the worst umpire I’ve ever seen, let’s talk about Aaron Nola. Aaron Nola is everything we hoped he would be. He got himself into trouble, but was able to handle the heat and get himself out. He was just fantastic.
And then the seventh inning happened.
The score was 1-1, and Nola was having some trouble. He’d gotten the first two outs, but walked Raimel Tapia. And now Charlie Blackmon was coming to the plate. Before that moment in the seventh, Blackmon had already hit two doubles, both off of Nola. So Blackmon was dangerous, and Nola was dancing on the edge of danger. Nola delivered a strike for the first pitch, and then sent the second pitch right down the middle to Rupp, just as Blackmon tried to call time. Home plate umpire Carlos Torres didn’t grant time, and so Rupp received the pitch and immediately threw to Freddy Galvis at second, trying to get Tapia stealing.
Tapia stole the base successfully, burt then, all of a sudden, Torres called the pitch a ball. Which pitch? OH, THIS PITCH.
Behold this unholy garbage pic.twitter.com/TPQCM0wDWB— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) August 6, 2017
YUP. YUP. YUP. HE CALLED THAT PITCH, WHICH WAS ALMOST IN THE GEOGRAPHIC CENTER OF THE STRIKE ZONE, A BALL.
Now, I know that we can’t always trust these strike zone maps. We should trust our eyes more rather than a rendering of what happened.
This was a live pitch. No time was granted. Charlie Blackmon worked it to 3-1 before hitting a double. pic.twitter.com/7LmRiOefq0— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) August 6, 2017
YUP. STILL HORRIBLE.
I mean, holy crap. That’s some really awful umpiring. Torres was absolutely abysmal behind the plate all game, calling strikes and balls on the borders of the zone with no consistency. It was an absolute coin toss.
The fun was just beginning, though. After that classic ump show, Blackmon worked the count to 3-1 before hitting his third double of the game, which scored Tapia, i.e. the go-ahead run. The Rockies were leading 2-1. Nola left after the end of the inning, finishing the day with 7 innings pitched, six hits, two runs (one of them bullshit), two walks, and seven strikeouts. He’s just so, so good.
The eighth inning brought more insanity, if you can believe it. Cameron Rupp led off with a single, which was great. The Phillies had a runner on with no outs! And because the Phillies have had so much trouble scoring runs, and because the umpire just screwed the Phillies with their pants on, everyone wanted to fix things as soon as possible. So when Andres Blanco doubled, Rupp started trucking around the bases as fast as his legs would carry him. Keep in mind: with an important chance to tie the score on the line, Rupp hadn’t been replaced by a pinch runner. So he ran. And he ran. He ran past second. He approached third. And then he... kept going?
Cameron Rupp, enormous panda human, tried to score from first, and he was out by a good 15-20 feet. He was so, so out. He was so out he was actually outside the stadium. How did that happen? What did Juan Samuel do? Did he send Rupp because he’s bad at his job and wants to be fired (it’s Cameron Rupp for the love of god)? Or did Rupp decide he could make it home on his own?
Rockies broadcast had this. 1) Looks (in motion) like the arm started before the ball fell and 2) no stop held up as he rounds 3rd pic.twitter.com/D3jw25HCxP— Paul Boyé (@paul_boye) August 6, 2017
This doesn’t clear it up all that much, but here’s how it looks to me: either Samuel sent him, or he didn’t do anything and Rupp just kept on running in the absence of any other direction. Either way it’s pretty terrible.
At some point during all this, Larry Bowa was ejected, and that’s kind of what Larry Bowa is for. You can always count on him to say what needs to be said to the umpire, or yell and swear what needs to be yelled and sweared (sworn?) to the umpire. He’s the sacrificial lamb of the coaching staff.
The Phillies actually loaded the bases in the top of the eighth, thanks to two walks, but — surprise! — nothing came of it.
And then we got to the ninth. Take a deep breath. Calm yourself. Prepare for what you’re about to read and relive.
Odubel Herrera led off with a double, and went to third on Maikel Franco’s single. (Worth mentioning: up until this point, the only run of the day was scored by Franco on a second inning home run.) And then, well...
Phillies season in one photo pic.twitter.com/fwrPHjacfY— El Torito (@OdubelsBatFlips) August 6, 2017
Odubel, Odubel my love, he tried to score on a weak grounder to second. Trevor Story fired the ball home and Jonathan Lucroy tagged Odubel just as he was reaching for home. He lay there, splayed out his stomach, several feet away from home plate, for several seconds before getting up. One out.
There were still two runners on when Rupp came back to the plate. And because Rupp has some incredible timing, he hit a double that cleared the bases and put the Phillies ahead 3-2. And someone in the dugout was very happy.
That someone is Cameron Perkins. He was very, very happy, and who could blame him?
Hector Neris held it down in the ninth, but there’s one last thing worth mentioning. Trevor Story singled in the ninth, and then stole second. Rupp attempted another throw to second, this time to Cesar Hernandez. He tried to catch the ball at his stomach as it bounced up in front of him, but it missed his glove and landed, uh, a bit lower. He was doubled over in pain for several minutes, but no one really said what exactly got, uh, beaned by the ball. Thankfully, Pete Mackanin cleared it up after the game.
"Well," Pete Mackanin said, "Cesar doesn't wear a cup, which I don't understand."— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) August 6, 2017
The Phillies dealt the Rockies their first loss this year when leading after eight innings. And the Phillies... well, the Phillies didn’t get swept. And they didn’t let Carlos Torres lose them this game. That makes today’s win even sweeter.