The San Diego Padres upended the Seattle Mariners Saturday night 1-0 in part thanks to a huge error on the part of home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.
With one out in the fifth inning and Cameron Maybin at the plate, Seattle starter Doug Fister got ahead of Maybin 0-2. Here is the sequence of the following pitches: Foul ball, ball, foul ball, ball. At the time, the scoreboard read 3-2, as did the television broadcasts. Maybin took the next pitch for a ball, tossed his bat and jogged to first base. The problem? The count was actually 3-2. The other problem? No one stopped him. No one from the Mariners protested and the umpiring crew didn’t say anything.
Anthony Rizzo grounded out to third in the next at-bat, sending Maybin to second base. Then, with two outs, Alberto Gonzalez hit a rocket through the left side that deflected off of shortstop Brendan Ryan and bounced into left field. Maybin scored on the play to give the Padres the only run they’d need.
No one on the field seemed to notice the gaffe, but replays showed that, indeed, Maybin had walked on three balls.
The first questioned asked after the game was whether or not the Mariners could protest the game based on that play? The answer is no. A game can only be protested when a rule has been interpreted incorrectly or the judgement of an umpire is in question. Had Seattle manager Eric Wedge mentioned something before Fister threw a pitch to the next batter, then something could have been done. But he didn’t.
The game finished with a 1-0 score, and the Mariners ate the loss thanks to a phantom run.