They were robbed. Thanks to an extra-inning balk call last night, the Mariners extended their losing streak to 5 games; all of them at home. It was the top of the tenth inning, the ball game was tied and home plate umpire CB Bucknor called a balk on Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar which resulted in Ian Kinsler getting a free run from third. We’ve all seen extra inning walks and hit by pitches for runs, and while those hurt, nothing hurts more than having the umpire give the game away for you.
Moreover, does this look like a balk to you?
According to umpire Bucknor, Farquhar was looking in for his sign, and he started up, and stopped, and moved his left shoulder
Well, okay, that’s true. But in order for me to even see what he was talking about I needed to watch the replay three times. It’s a slight movement of the shoulder. It looks like he was about to stand up to deliver the pitch, but had a quick second guess about pitch selection and was shaking off the sign. So, Bucknor is right, there’s movement from the set position. Post-game chatter on Root Sports was pretty good, at least they explained why this is a balk, and why CB was well within the rules to call it as such. The post-game interviews featured a dejected looking Eric Wedge admitting ‘it was a balk.’ I would be more apt to accept this call if Farquhar was called on a balk for checking the runner at third, or at least making a bad step off the rubber, quite literally anything other than moving his shoulder while shaking off the signs. To me, this call just screams ‘I want to go home’ from the umpire. There’s no doubt in my mind that a call like that wouldn’t have been made in the first inning. Hell, I bet the Rangers would never have even noticed it without Bucknor yelling and pointing.
So the Mariners lost tonight, CB Bucknor gave the game to the Rangers, and everyone got to go home at a reasonable hour. I don’t want to rip on umpiring too badly here, partly because we can all agree that it was a bad call anyways, and partly because the Mariners never should have won this game in the first place. The bottom of the ninth featured a lead-off single, and then two consecutive popped-up bunts, although, Dustin Ackley got lucky when his ball sailed over the head of Neal Cotts for a single. With two men on and nobody out Quintero popped up a bunt for an out, and then we watched two consecutive strikeouts. We’ve seen this time and time again with the Mariners, the inability to produce runs when they really need them is incredibly frustrating to watch. The M’s left five runners in scoring position last night, and the winning run was left on second for three straight outs.
Even though the Mariners couldn’t convert in the ninth, watching umpiring decide a game like that is so, so hard to watch. I know I wasn’t alone in yelling at the TV last night. Getting screwed by an umpire is nothing new, but it would be nice to see a call or two go our way sometimes.