WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Washington Nationals lost Game 5 of the 2019 World Series on Sunday, dropping a boat race to the Houston Astros that puts them in a 3-2 hole as the best-of-seven series shifts back to Minute Maid Park in Houston. Although the final score doesn't reflect it, there were moments during the game where home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale's strike zone may have cost the Nationals a chance to get back into the mix.
One call that stood out the most occurred in the seventh inning, when Victor Robles was called out on strikes to end the inning and strand Ryan Zimmerman at first base in a 4-1 game. Had Barksdale called the pitch a ball, the Nationals would have brought the tying run to the plate.
The call looked bad in real time, and fared no better in hindsight. Take a look:
Robles reacted with an incredulous look, and later flipped his gear toward Barksdale -- a gesture that could result in a fine for the young center fielder.
After the game, Nationals manager Dave Martinez opted to take the high road when asked about Barksdale's calls, noting that there's a reason why Barksdale -- among others -- are umpiring the World Series. That reason being MLB deems them this crew to be the best collection of umpires the sport has to offer.
Of course, it's worth noting that cameras did catch the Nationals dugout -- Martinez included -- barking at Barksdale throughout the game. Martinez seemed to take exception to one sequence where Barksdale appeared to blame catcher Yan Gomes for a missed strike call. Martinez seemingly asked Barksdale to "wake up" because "it's the World Series."
"I will not ever sit here and criticize an umpire," Martinez said after the game. "I've known Lance for a very long time and he's really good. And that's all I'm going to say about it. I'm not going to sit here -- I know there were some choice words but that's just in the heat of the moment."
Still, it's not surprising that Martinez would elect against blasting the umpires in public. It's not a good look regardless of the calls, and it's an act that would likely trigger a fine. Neither would be beneficial to Martinez or the Nationals as they attempt to salvage the World Series in Game 6.