Oct. 5, 2012
Whatever happened between St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Pete Kozma, left fielderand right field umpire Ed Holbrook Friday afternoon at in Atlanta, it will go down in history as a controversial call. A different call in that situation would have led to a very good opportunity for the Braves to change the outcome of the game.
But before Braves fans begin dwelling on how they may or may not have been cheated in the eighth inning, a review of the home half of the second inning is in order.
In that inning, Cardinal starterwas well into his windup when batter David Ross asked for time. The MLB rulebook is very clear that home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg should not have granted Ross the timeout:
Umpires will not call Time at the request of the batter or any member of his team once the pitcher has started his windup or has come to a set position even though the batter claims dust in his eyes, steamed glasses, didn’t get the sign or for any other cause.
As if to emphasize that he didn’t think he had received the time out he asked for, Ross swung and missed at the pitch. Strike three, or so it appeared.
Yet Kellogg waved the whole thing off.
Ross hit a two-run homer on the next pitch, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead.
That bad call had more of a direct impact on the game than the controversial infield fly call in the eighth inning.
Lohse regrouped nicely in the second, getting out of the inning after allowing another single. He went on to allow just those two runs over 5 2/3 innings.
The Braves highly touted defense, however, did not back up the offense in its usual fashion. A fourth-inning throwing error by Braves third baseman, playing in the final game of his storied 19-year-career, led to three Cardinal runs. The defending World Series champions never relinquished that lead. They added a fourth run on a solo blast by Matt Holliday in the sixth and added two more runs on an additional Atlanta error in the sixth.
As for the infield fly controversy, some are already calling it the worst infield fly call ever.
Watching the replays, I think it is pretty clear that Kozma reacted to Holbrook’s calling out the infield fly rule at the same time he signaled with his arm. Holliday does not appear to have spoken, but I have not seen a replay showing Holbrook’s face during the call.
Still, it looks like Kozma, a rookie who is playing because of a season-ending injury shortstopsustained in August, reacted as if the words he heard were coming from Holliday, who was behind him for backup.
Kozma was not used to playing in a game with six instead of four umpires. Had the umpire not verbalized the call, he would have gone ahead and made the play in a more routine fashion. It would have been the same situation - two-on, two-out - but without the ugly fan reaction and delay of game in cleaning up the mess.
Infield fly ruling draws Braves’ ire, sparks disruption, mlb.com, Oct. 5, 2012
Play-by-play recap of Oct. 5 Atlanta-St. Louis NL Wild Card game