It could have been a blown call, but it was all deadly. Major League Baseball’s infamous “public enemy” umpires rattled the starting pitchers of both teams. Ryu Hyun-jin (Toronto) was able to overcome it, while his opponent, Chris Flexen (Colorado), a familiar face to KBO fans, was unable to.
Hyun-jin Ryu took the mound against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado on Sunday (July 2), giving up two runs on four hits (one home run) in five innings with two walks and three strikeouts. He threw 76 pitches. The bullpen struggles cost him the win, but the offense exploded late to give the team a 13-9 victory. It’s no exaggeration to say that Ryu set the stage for the victory.
However, it wasn’t easy. After pitching a perfect second inning, Ryu faltered in the third. He threw a cutter to leadoff hitter Nolan Jones and allowed a single to right. He then gave up a two-run double to Elijuris Montero. He had a favorable one-ball, two-strike count, but a four-pitch, 76.7 mph changeup was driven up the middle. It was his ninth home run at Coors Field. It was a 95.5 mph (153.7 km/h) fastball that traveled 374 feet (114 meters).
After the first pitch, Brent Doyle induced a grounder to third base to give himself some breathing room, but he gave up a walk to Charlie Blackmon on a wobbly pitch and an 87.8 mph fastball to Aroldis Chapman for a double to left field. That put runners on second and third.
But he used his crisis management skills to get out of the jam without allowing another run. Threw an outside cutter to Elias Diaz and induced a fielder’s choice for the second out. He kept runners from advancing. With runners on second and third, Ryan McMahon threw a 67.1 mph curveball on a two-pitch, two-strike count and got a swinging strike to end the threat.
Trouble in the fourth inning. Hyun-jin Ryu was nearly shaken by a ridiculous ball call in the fourth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Rogers, the leadoff hitter, also threw a cutter, and after a six-pitch count, he grounded out to the first baseman. A batter later, he threw a cutter on a one-pitch, two-strike at-bat against Goodman and got a single up the middle.
The call against Nolan Jones was ridiculous. An 88.8-mph fastball on a full count hit the high part of the strike zone. It was a clear strike, even on gameday.
But umpire Angel Hernandez called it a ball. The umpire was notorious for making bad calls and penalized Ryu. A walk put runners on first and second, but Ryu kept his composure. On a one-pitch, one-strike at-bat, he threw an 87.5-mph fastball outside for a double play. Ryu then held on until the fifth inning to put the game away.
Ryu’s sixth pitch was in the strike zone but was ruled a ball. Green is the color of the ballMLB Gameday capture.
Ryu overcame umpire Hernandez’s misbehavior. But in the end, the control of the game that Hernandez was trying to bring was taken by Flexen. Flexen’s call was just as outrageous as Ryu’s. In the top of the sixth inning, with the score tied 2-2, Flexen gave up a single to Brandon Belt with one out. He then walked Danny Jansen on a full count. In fact, it didn’t need to be a full count. On a two-pitch, two-strike at-bat, a cutter five pitches outside was in the strike zone. It should have been a strike, but umpire Hernandez called it a ball. Flexen was understandably frustrated. He worked a full count and then hit a 91-mph fastball to left field for a two-run homer.
For Ryu, the two-run shot was a game-winner, but for Flexen, it was the worst thing that could have happened to him. Flexen didn’t make it out of the sixth inning. He was charged with four runs on seven hits (three homers) and one walk in 5⅔ innings. For Flexen, who landed in Colorado this year after being released by the Seattle Mariners and then the New York Mets, it was one game, one pitch, one frustrating call by umpire Hernandez.
Umpire Hernandez has a colorful past. He was already notorious for his officiating. The veteran umpire, who made his debut in 1993, has been embroiled in numerous controversies. In 2017, veteran infielder Ian Kinsler was ejected for protesting a ball call and later tweeted, “He should leave baseball. Umpire Hernandez needs to reconsider his profession. He needs to find another job because he’s changing the game. He needs to stop ruining baseball,” he said in a heated tone.
Kinsler wasn’t the only one at odds with Major League Baseball’s leaders and players. Hernandez’s criticisms from both inside and outside of baseball have not abated. In the 2019 World Series, he became “infamous” for his blown calls. In a post-retirement appearance on ESPN, C.C. Sabathia said, “He’s the worst umpire, he’s terrible. He doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs. I don’t know how he can officiate such an important game,” Sabathia said in an interview on ESPN.메이저놀이터
While Ryu’s Toronto team was fortunate to get the win, Colorado was not. The difference is that Ryu had the mental fortitude to overcome the blown call, while Flexen was shaken.