CHICAGO – You could tell by the reaction of the batter and the gasp of the crowd that the Cubs weren’t too happy with the call on the first pitch to Jake Marisnick in the ninth inning on Saturday afternoon.
With the home team trailing 4-3 and having the leadoff runner on, Milwaukee closer Josh Hader’s pitch appeared to be high to the outfielder. But home plate umpire Cory Blaser ruled it a strike, and as displeased as Marisnick was with the call, it was nowhere near David Ross’ reaction.
The manager screamed from the dugout at Blaser and before even stepping out onto the field was ejected from the ballgame. An argument ensued and after about 30 seconds, Ross left the field having said his peace on the call.
“He hasn’t had a high strike zone all day, and hasn’t had a low strike zone. I thought he’d been really consistent all day,” said Ross of Blaser. “The time when where we things going and a time where our team has a ton of confidence, those are wins, comeback wins, that can really keep you going when you’re playing really well.
“Obviosuly it’s one pitch, but in that moment, that just can’t happen in my opinion.”
It certainly was a call that had an impact on what could have been a promising inning as Marisnick went on to strike out. Ian Happ did the same and Willson Contreras flied out as Hader got his fourth save of the season.
It ended the Cubs’ four-game winning streak in a game which they led early 2-0 thanks to a Nico Hoerner two RBI double in the second inning. Adbert Alzolay struck out seven batters into the fifth but was pulled after a walk to Corey Ray, a Chicago native making his major league debut, leaving two runners on.
Rex Brothers then walked back-to-back batters to bring in a run then hit Tyron Taylor to tie the game. Milwaukee got the lead on a two-run homer by Manny Pina in the seventh, but Jason Heyward got one back with a solo shot in the eighth.
In such a back-and-forth game, with a chance to tie the Brewers for the division lead, not having that pitch to Marisnick called a ball was a critical moment. In the end, it’s one that turned a potential comeback into a sour defeat.
“Every pitch matters. Listen, every pitch matters,” said Ross. “That’s why we fight. That’s why framing is so important. That’s why pitch-calling is so important. That’s why it’s heightened in the playoffs. That’s why we put some much importance; we kinda yell and scream in the dugout at times and trying to….the strike zone’s important.
“Balls that change at bats. 1-0 is a lot different than 0-1. Period.”
It certainly changed the outlook of a promising inning on Saturday.