The Texas Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night, 5-4 in Arlington. In the process, Joe Nathan became the 24th pitcher in major-league history to record 300 career saves. The final strike of the game, however, was greeted with dismay by Rays batter Ben Zobrist, Rays manager Joe Maddon and surely legions of fans.
Here's a GIF of the pitch, thanks to Cork Gaines:
Perhaps most amazing is that Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski didn't even have the chance to frame the pitch. Usually when a catcher drops his glove like that, there's no chance at getting the call. And yet the Rangers did.
From the excellent Brooksbaseball.net, here's the strikezone plot for the game, which is from the point of view of the umpire. That red square to the lower left is the above pitch:
An interesting tidbit here comes via Mr. Brooks himself, who noted to us on Twitter that home plate umpire Marty Foster does have a tendency to expand the zone low and away with left-handed hitters at the plate. Here's Foster's heat map:
Still, Maddon wouldn't likely to swayed by any of that. He immediately went to Twitter after the game to leave a very succinct message:
That can't happen in a major league game.— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) April 9, 2013
For his part, Foster should be credited for accountability.
"I saw the pitch and, of course, don't have the chance to do it again," Foster told a pool reporter (via Foul Territory blog). "But had I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn't call that pitch a strike."