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Angels' protest of Astros' pitching change rescinded
Manager disputed Porter's interpretation of switching relievers in seventh
By Alden Gonzalez
HOUSTON -- The Angels' 6-5 victory over the Astros rescinded manager Mike Scioscia's official protest of Thursday night's game at Minute Maid Park, while somewhat downplaying another umpiring controversy one day after the big replay dispute in Cleveland.
However, hours after the game concluded the question lingered: Why did the umpires allow Houston manager Bo Porter to make two pitching changes without his first reliever facing a batter and with no injury involved?
Approached by a pool reporter, crew chief Fieldin Culbreth only had one answer.
"The only thing I can tell you is that all matters concerning protests are handled through the league office, and that's all I can tell you," Culbreth said.
If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief's judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.
With two on, two outs and the Angels trailing, 5-3, in the top of the seventh, Porter subbed right-hander Paul Clemens with lefty Wesley Wright, with left-handed hitter J.B. Shuck due to bat.
After Wright threw his warm-up pitches and Porter saw the right-handed-hitting Luis Jimenez on deck to pinch-hit, Porter made another pitching change, going to righty Hector Ambriz before Wright faced a hitter. Scioscia was furious, got in a long argument with the umpires and informed Culbreth that the Angels would play the rest of the game under protest.
"My contention was that the pitcher who came in had to face one batter," Scioscia said. "That's why I protested it, and we're happy we won."
That rule is 3.05(b), which states: If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at-bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief's judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.
Wright did not suffer any type of injury.
"I think the rule's pretty clear," said Scioscia, who didn't want to go into what was explained to him.
Porter contested that because Jimenez was officially announced as a pinch-hitter, he could go to a different pitcher without having the first guy face a batter. After discussing it with the umpires, Porter was allowed the substitution, which brought Scioscia out of the dugout.
That, however, is not mentioned in the rulebook.
"If you have to pinch-hit for that batter, you now have the right to bring in another pitcher," said Porter. "Technically, Wesley came in to pitch the batter that was scheduled to hit, but he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit -- which, from my understanding of the rule, you can bring in another pitcher to face the pinch-hitter."
For reasons unbeknownst to anyone at the ballpark, Culbreth allowed it to take place. Afterwards, Culbreth wasn't willing to offer up an explanation. Asked a follow-up question, he responded similarly: "I can tell you that all matters concerning protests go through the league office."
With two outs in the ninth at Progressive Field on Wednesday, A's infielder Adam Rosales appeared to hit a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth, the ball clearly bouncing off the railing that sits atop the left-field fence.
It was initially ruled a double, with crew chief Angel Hernandez maintaining the call after reviewing with instant replay, and the A's eventually lost. The next day, Major League Baseball executive vice president Joe Torre said in a statement that the umps made an "improper call" but said the call "stands as final."
The last upheld protest was June 16, 1986, in a game between the Cardinals and Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. That day, umpires called the game after rain delays of only 17 and 22 minutes, when the rule states that they must wait at least a half-hour.