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Angels protest Astros’ illegal switch, win game anyway

May 10, 2013, 12:54 AM EDT

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Houston Astros Getty Images

Here’s a new one: with the Angels batting with two on and two out in the seventh inning Thursday, the Astros went to bring in left-hander Wesley Wright to face left-hander J.B. Shuck. The Angels promptly countered with right-handed hitting Luis Jimenez.

And then the Astros suddenly countered with right-hander Hector Ambriz.

If that sounds unusual, well, it is. If it sounds illegal, well, it’s that, too. Except Astros rookie manager Bo Porter didn’t know it. And it seems Fieldin Culbreth’s umpiring crew didn’t know it either, even with Angels manager Mike Scioscia loudly pointing it out several times before play finally resumed several minutes later.

Make no mistake, Wright was in the game. He threw several warmup pitches before Porter went out to bring in Ambriz instead. That, of course, isn’t allowed, according to Rule 3.05. Barring an injury, any pitcher that enters a game has to face at least one batter. It’s a fairly well known rule, one that would surely be exploited frequently if it didn’t exist.

The Angels, down 5-3 at the time, immediately protested the game. It’s a protest that might have actually been upheld by the league, given that it the mistake was entirely an umpire’s error, with no judgment call being involved. Except now we’ll never find out. While Ambriz was able to escape the jam in the seventh after the illegal switch, the Angels came back and scored three runs in the eighth and won the game 6-5, essentially rendering the protest null and void.

In one way, that’s probably for the best; the Astros didn’t deserve to benefit from their illegal move. Still, it is rather too bad we didn’t see MLB’s first successful protest since 1986. Had the protest been upheld, the game would have restarted from the moment the illegal move was made, with Wright back on the mound and the Angels trailing in the top of the seventh inning.

  1. ireportyoudecide - May 10, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    Pathetic umpiring. Get rid of the umpires union, grade them each day and have computers call balls and strikes.

  2. duckthefodgers - May 10, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    I just feel sorry for the astros, they get away with breaking rules and still can’t win.

    • jarathen - May 10, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Yeah, they’ll have to settle with taking 2 out of 3 from what may be the most abominable team in all of baseball.

  3. millmannj - May 10, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    If the Astros did win, Joe Torre would have come up with some excuse that would have let the score stand, and would have declared the umpires blameless.

    • paperlions - May 10, 2013 at 7:43 AM

      Yep, after all, “perfection is an impossible standard”….or something.

  4. redguy12588 - May 10, 2013 at 1:36 AM

    And the umpires involved didnt answer any questions again. And they wonder why everyone sees them as jokes.

  5. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 10, 2013 at 1:53 AM

    Am I the only one that feels bad for umps like this and Angel Hernandez? They spend countless hours botching calls and blowing games, only to have Jeff Loria come along and so effortlessly bone the entire city of Miami. As long as he’s around none of these umps will ever be able to win the title of “Worst Person in Baseball” that so many of them seem to covet.

  6. yournuts - May 10, 2013 at 2:03 AM

    I think that there is also a rule that if you hit a baseball out of the Park it is a homerun and not a double. But it seems that the umpires have the power to change any rules.

  7. giantrobot666 - May 10, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    I think the bigger story here is that the Angels actually won a game.

    • cktai - May 10, 2013 at 2:44 AM

      Well they were playing the Astros. One of them was bound to lose.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 10, 2013 at 5:13 AM

        Most games usually work like that.

      • cktai - May 10, 2013 at 5:46 AM

        Obviously, you don’t watch many European sports.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 10, 2013 at 6:03 AM

        Indeed I don’t….but we were talking about baseball.

      • cktai - May 10, 2013 at 7:03 AM

        Maybe you are, but I am all over the place.

  8. seeinred87 - May 10, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    I’m pretty sure Bo Porter went out to make the 2nd switch without thinking, got called on it, and instead of getting all embarrassed and walking back to the dugout, he decided to give it the ol’ “well, technically…”

    And it worked!

    Seriously, there’s no way he understood the rule as he claims to have understood it.

  9. tanzkommandant - May 10, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    A hispanic umpire one night. A white the next. Nobody talks about the decline of the black umpire.

    • stlouis1baseball - May 10, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      “Nobody talks about the decline of the black umpire.”

      Lol! Thanks a lot Tanz. Now we get to look forward to the next article.

    • raybrower - May 10, 2013 at 10:00 AM

      I don’t care what anyone says, I’m still going to blame Joe West.

  10. modellforprez - May 10, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    what they been Playing pro ball for 150 years and people still dont know the rules.

  11. vallewho - May 10, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    wow. more dumbassery from the umps.

    • denny65 - May 10, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      Isn’t “dumbassery” a clause in the ump’s union contract?

  12. onbucky96 - May 10, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Those tele tubbies in blue messed up again? Noooooooo Way! I’ve never read the MLB rule book nor ever umpired. I last played ball as a sophmore in high school. But I think I’ve got a better handle on the sport than these jack asses. LAME.

  13. joestemme - May 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Whatever happened to the manager pulling out the little rule book and just showing the rule to the umpire? Hell, nowadays, it could be on an ipad………

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