Matt Harvey missed a win last night because umpire Bob Davidson called a pitch by rookie Josh Edgin to veteran Chase Utley that was a fraction of an inch off the plate a ball. It was the correct call but it could have gone either way. The pitch resulted in a walk and the next batter hit the game-winning two-run homer. It was a 3-2 count and if it was called a strike the game would have been over.
In the bottom of the ninth, Davidson called a pitch that was considerably worse from veteran Jonathan Papelbon to rookie Jordany Valdespin a strike. That resulted in the first out of the inning but it should have made it a 2-2 count. Given the fact that Valdespin has enjoyed success off Papelbon earlier this year, it was extremely frustrating that a veteran umpire would blow such an obvious call.
Let’s examine some visual evidence of the two pitches. The graphs come courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net and the first one is the plot of the location of pitches that Edgin threw to Utley. The call in question came on pitch 8.
Now here’s the same chart for Papelbon’s pitch to Valdespin. The call in question came on pitch 5.
There’s simply no way to justify calling the pitch to Utley a ball and then turn around and call the one to Valdespin a strike.
Watching the game live, my immediate reaction to the pitch to Valdespin over in the Game Chatter was – “Terrible call.” After seeing the replay, my reaction was – “low and away. Not a strike in any conceivable way.”
After a night to sleep on it, I feel the exact same way.