The Philadelphia Phillies suffered a controversial 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday after several questionable calls from a substitute umpire behind home plate.
Things came loose in the seventh inning after umpire Alex McKay, a call due to illness, called Phillies third baseman Alec Baum on a 3-2 pitch that clearly fouled an inside out.
The missed call, with two outs and the bases, cost the Phillies a run and possibly a ball game. An angry Boom slammed his bat to the ground which led to him being swiftly thrown off McKay.
In the bottom half of the eighth inning, the bad feelings continued when McKay called Bryce Harper out for another debatable pitch that, although closer than that against the Owls, still had the potential to be a ball.
Harper protested the call but surprisingly avoided being fired. However, manager Rob Thomson wasn’t so lucky, with MacKay tearing up after seeing enough from the dugout.
Controversial calls have certainly changed the game and possibly the outcome. But the Phillies can’t look back and blame McKay alone for Sunday’s loss.
The Phillies left the bases loaded in the second inning and before plays in the seventh, outfielder Kyle Schwarber walked out on one and the bases filled before the Bum ran into McKay.
Since being called up from the minor leagues, MacKay appears to be building a reputation for having a short fuse. Before Sunday’s fun, McKay also infuriated Chicago Cubs manager David Ross in July. In the last game before the All-Star break, McKay projectile Ross for arguing balls and strikes in the first half.
Ruling is difficult, but the different personalities and inconsistencies in strike zones have led to calls for MLB to introduce robot umpires or, at the very least, give teams the ability to challenge balls and strikes via restart.
In 2022, automatic balls and a strike system make their debut at Triple A, and given the changes already made in the majors this season, there may be more on the horizon.