That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: A disputed check swing and why rule should be changed

A moment that will be discussed for years to come the Wilmer Flores check swing ruled a strike by first base umpire Gabe Morales in the bottom of the ninth during the NLDS game 5 on Thu Oct 14, 2021 at Oracle Park in San Francisco for the last out against the Los Angeles Dodgers (AP News photo)

A Disputed Check Swing and Why Rule should be Changed

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Thousands of people at Oracle Park in San Francisco and millions across the country witnessed a terrible call by first base umpire Gabe Morales, (after a request asking for help, from the home plate umpire) decided a Wilmer Flores “swing” for the third strike, thus ending Game 5 which Dodgers won 5-4 over the Giants. Dodgers advanced to the NLCS and Giants went home for the winter.

During the past several years baseball has been changing many things, mostly trying to speed up the game. Here is one rule that they should change. What we all witness happens more often than you think, probably thousands of times during games in the regular season, but what made it much more blatant was it was the last out of a very important game with a huge television audience. TBS telecast of this game delivered the biggest audience this postseason so far.

Baseball uses six (6) umpires during the postseason, the regular four (4) on the infield, plus two (2) are added, one on left field and one in right field. We know this is done for the sake of accuracy because these are much more important games than the 162-regular season affairs. This rule (see MLB rules below) should be revised and possibly changed. The rule in question is very nebulous.

For the record: Wilmer Flores, prior to the questioned at-bat and during his career, never got a hit from Max Scherzer in 17 turns at the plate with 8 strikeouts. The probability that Flores was going to get a hit against this pitcher was very low, but just like baseball is not played on paper but on the field, baseball is also not played in probability but in actual time on the field. The Giants, including their manager Gabe Kapler showed a lot of class, considering what happened during what was out number 27 and the last one of that crucial game for both teams.

As of today I have never met a robot and had a conversation with one or somebody that walked on water and never made a mistake, I believe umpire Gabe Morales also was very candid after the game when he said the following (quote) “Check swings are one of the hardest calls we have. I don’t have the benefit of multiple camera angles when I’m watching it live. When it happened live, I thought he went, so that’s why I called it a swing.” (end of quote) Check swings are interpreted many ways by different umpires, not reliable when it comes to consistency. It is like the argument “what came first the chicken or the egg”?

Major League Baseball has a lot on their agenda this winter, especially negotiating a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) describing the rules of employment and financial structure of the game. The most recent was finalized on November 30, 2016 and last until December 1, 2021. This is a big deal for both sides, owners, and players, and will take a very good effort from both sides.

I am sure MLB still will have time on how to correct the controversial “check swing” rule, a very confusing rule that makes umpires more vulnerable and open for mistakes based on interpretation. This is the link to the Official Baseball rules. http://mlb.mlb.com/documents/0/8/0/268272080/2018_Official_Baseball_Rules.pdf

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead broadcaster for Oakland A’s Spanish radio on 1010 KIQI Le Grande San Francisco and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Giants shut down the Dodgers, anticipate their rivals making the biggest moves at the trade deadline

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Padres have the flashiest moves, reportedly those will include a deadline deal for Max Scherzer within the next 24 hours.

The Dodgers are the current World Champions, talented, and looking to add a piece or two to keep them on top.

The Giants aren’t saying or doing much, but they’ve got the most wins, the most remaining home games, and after Thursday’s reaffirming 5-0 win, the respect of the Dodgers.

“We have so much respect for those guys. Obviously, that’s a very good ballclub,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They’ve earned this right now, up to this point. And they played better the last seven games, clearly. All we can do is turn the page, get ready for Arizona and try to play good baseball. That’s the only focus right now that we have. We’ve still got a ways to go.”

A ways to go is down to 60 remaining games in 2021, only three of those against the Dodgers. The third-place Padres are six games behind the Giants and they have 10 of their final 19 games against the division leaders. How do you handicap this race? Quite obviously, credible cases can be made for each of the two challengers, Los Angeles and San Diego, especially with the Giants more an more likely to stand pat at the deadline.

Could the Giants surprise with their lineup of champs a half decade removed along with aging wonders Johnny Cueto, Evan Longoria, Darin Ruf? More and more, it feels like we’re about to find out.

First place is a good position to be in,” Brandon Crawford answered when asked what should the Giants do next. “We could always add pieces, there are some guys that are available that could probably help us. But we have the best record in baseball so we’re doing things pretty also. If we add, great. If we don’t, great.” 

The Giants did what they needed to do Thursday. Leveling the season series with the Dodgers at 8-8 after losing the first four, and six of the first nine is huge. The Giants jumped out quick with Crawford coming off the injured list and driving in two runs in his first at-bat. The opening rally was pure opportunism, and the Giants drew three walks from Dodgers’ starter David Price then saw Crawford bounce a winner down the third base line as he clearly looked to take advantage of the defensive shift that conceded the third base line with Justin Turner playing in the shortstop hole.

“Walking three guys in that first inning, that puts myself in a tough spot, puts our team in a tough spot as well,” Price said. “Crawford did a good job of staying inside that fastball. He shot it down the third-base line. That was a big hit for them.”

The theme of striking with two outs continued for the Giants as they added single runs in the second and fourth innings. In the seventh, Lamonte Wade Jr. gave the Giants their third RBI double to cap the scoring and send the Dodgers to San Francisco International Airport post haste.

From a pitching perspective, Cueto gave the Giants all the remaining momentum they needed by pitching into the sixth inning and not allowing any runs. Cueto went the entire month of July until Thursday without a win. That put the veteran on the spot as potential spot in the rotation to upgrade. But Cueto’s response was emphatic. The veteran shut the Dodgers down with a greater percentage of fastballs, better performance the first time through the order, which had been an issue. And to top it off, and in support of a blueprint going forward, the 35-year old threw fewer than 80 pitches before he was lifted which maybe the path for him to follow allowing him to ramp up his pitches earlier in starts and not worry about getting as deep in ballgames.

“I kept telling myself that I needed to be very aggressive against these hitters because they’re difficult and hard hitters,” Cueto said after the game through his interpreter.

The Dodgers one shot to make things interesting came and went with Cody Bellinger’s at-bat in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. But reliever Jarlin Garcia–a name gaining prominence in the team’s pecking order–came on struck out the Dodgers’ slugger on three pitches.

The Giants gave catcher Buster Posey the day off as anticipated, but also did not rule out their iconic player’s return on Friday night against the Astros with his early exit on Wednesday not being ruled due to a concussion. The team said the move was precautionary, and they got good news when that belief was confirmed Thursday.

Kevin Gausman gets the start on Friday against the Astros in a matchup with Framber Valdez.

College roommates Yastrzemski and Gray meet again in Giants 6-3 win over the Reds

By Morris Phillips

Hey, a solo shot’s no big deal.

Sonny Gray and Mike Yastrzemski, college roommates at Vanderbilt a decade ago, didn’t have an opportunity to hash it out on Monday night. Yaz took Gray deep in the fifth inning to put the Giants up, 4-0, but by that point, the Reds couldn’t catch the ball, and the Giants were in full swing, doing their traveling home run show thing.

In other words, bigger issues were at hand then reminiscing about old conversations in college.

“I don’t think it fazed him,” Yastrzemski said of Gray’s reaction to the home run among friends. “We always talked about it and he said if I hit a homer in a game off him, it had to be a solo shot. So I don’t think he’s too mad about it. It’s something I hope we’ll eventually look back and give each other grief about and have fun with it.”

Just not on Monday. What was more pressing were the Reds’ recent struggles that have them losing lopsided contests, while the Giants have been surging, just what’s been needed to keep the club in first place with the Padres and Dodgers breathing down their necks.

After the 6-3 Giants win at Great American Ballpark, Gray was dead serious while reliving his inability to keep the hard-hitting Giants from going deep while needing to explain his defenses shortcomings behind him. For the record, Gray allowed two home runs while the Reds committed two damaging errors.

“A pitcher’s job is to continue to try to make pitches, make competitive pitches and continue to try to force soft contact,” Gray admitted. “There were some plays that maybe could have been made that weren’t. It was just sloppy. Like I said, it started with me.”

Gray surrendered a walk and two singles in a busy first inning that didn’t go wrong until Jonathan India couldn’t field Brandon Crawford’s ground ball cleanly, and compounded his mistake with an errant throw allowing Buster Posey to score the game’s first run.

In the fourth, Wilmer Flores went opposite field off Gray to put the Giants up 3-0, but the blast was preceded by Eugenio Suarez’ fielding error that allowed Crawford to reach. Yastrzemski’s homer came an inning later, the culmination of Gray’s outing that wasn’t good enough above or below the surface.

The Giants flew above the minutiae with the homers, now numbering 39 away from Oracle Park, which leads the majors in home runs hit by a club on the road. That the total didn’t stall at the cozy, riverfront ballpark made a statement. The Giants hit ’em, and combined with stingy defense and pitching, a winning formula has emerged.

So far, it’s a formula that’s kept the more talented Dodgers and Padres in the rear view. All three clubs won Monday, and the Giants maintained their division lead, a half game better than San Diego, and two games ahead of the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, the Reds are 6-6 in their last 12 games, but they’ve allowed at least six runs in each of the losses, none of which have been by fewer than three runs, including 9-2 and 9-0 routs. The Reds have gone more than a month with a losing record, having last been over .500 on April 21.

Logan Webb enjoyed his best start if the season, cruising through six, scoreless innings by keeping Reds’ hitters off balance with a nice mix of sinkers, sliders and fastballs delivered at an aggressive pace. Webb was tight-lipped about the strategy after the game, with the exception of extolling his quick pace. He also clarified his abrupt exit, saying his shoulder soreness concerned manager Gabe Kapler enough that he lifted his pitcher despite the fact he still had plenty in his tank.

Kapler said the Giants will conduct tests on Webb’s shoulder in the coming days, but he didn’t seem concerned that his pitcher could miss time.

The Giants continue their four-game set in Cincinnati on Tuesday with Anthony DeSclafani facing the struggling Luis Castillo, saddled with a 1-5 record and 7.71 ERA.

Flores, bullpen bail Giants out of an early hole in 6-4 win over the Mariners

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Forgotten in the Giants’ chaotic week of uncertainty and inactivity: the team’s bullpen is showing improvement and becoming a reliable force.

Trailing 4-1 after two innings, and reeling from starting pitcher Tyler Anderson’s ejection, and Mike Yastrzemski’s calf injury, just one of the things on manager Gabe Kapler’s wish list was scoreless innings from his relievers.

When it was all done, Kapler got seven of them, and a huge, offensive rally to squeeze past the Mariners, 6-4. Anderson, who drew Kapler’s ire for his ejection, received a huge reprieve as well.

“We were put in a really bad situation because of me, and our guys fought, and that was really great,” Anderson said . “I felt really terrible inside leaving them out to dry like that. But to see everybody step up and have big performances, that was huge for the team.”

Wandy Peralta pitched the third, fourth and fifth innings in the lengthiest and most effective outing of his big league career. Peralta threw 49 pitches while maintaining his velocity throughout, allowing no hits, one walk while striking out three. The reliever’s 207th big league appearance came and went without a hold or a win–or a change on the scoreboard–but it definitely made an impression.

“As tough as (Anderson’s ejection) was, it was equally rewarding, and in some ways inspiring, to see him come out and give us the length that he did and battle. He gave us a chance to climb back into the game,” Kapler said of Peralta.

Rico Garcia, Tony Watson, Tyler Rogers and Sam Selman followed Peralta, giving the Giants a scoreless frame each. None had it easy in terms of numbers of pitches thrown, but the strikeouts piled up. The Giants recorded 12 on Thursday, and 29 strikeouts in the two-game series.

Evan Longoria’s RBI single kicked off the Giants’ comeback in the sixth. Luis Basabe, the rookie inserted into the game when Yastrzemski departed, gained his first big league hit and scored for the first time on Longoria’s hit. Later in the inning, Brandon Crawford’s sacrifice fly scored Wilmer Flores and the Giants trailed by one, 4-3.

In the seventh, Flores tripled home a pair to give the Giants the lead, and Alex Dickerson’s run-scoring, sacrifice fly gave the Giants some insurance.

The Mariners dropped all four games with the Giants by an aggregate score of 31-13. Playing all four in San Francisco didn’t help, neither did the team’s offense which stalled at critical junctures.

“The Giants had our number this year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I can’t really put my finger on it. They swung the bats very, very well against us and we struggled to close out innings against them.”

The win was the Giants 10th in their last 15 outings, a sign of team’s ability to stay locked in despite the team’s just completed week long odyssey which resulted in three, consecutive losses and confinement in two hotels. Now, they’ll finish the season with 11 games in 10 days, first in Oakland against the A’s then the final eight at Oracle Park against the Rockies and Padres.

The Giants are above .500 at 25-24 and the Rockies’ loss to the Dodgers Thursday night increased the Giants lead to three games in the important race to finish third in the NL West. The two other third place clubs in the National League–the Phillies and the Cardinals–also lost on Thursday enhancing the possibility that the Giants could finish seventh in the playoff stack and avoid the Dodgers in the postseason’s opening round.

Giants have modest two-game win streak after thumping the Angels 7-2

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–It’s official: The Giants’ embarassing weekend is over.

After three days of being used like a doormat by the more talented A’s, the Giants have bounced back, winning a second straight over the Angels Wednesday night, 7-2.

Of course, the response against the struggling Angels won’t generate the headlines that getting embarrassed by the rival A’s did, but the Giants are back to their process. Just get better, one day at at a time.

Wilmer Flores came through with a two-strike, two-out, three-run homer, and Austin Slater hit a two-run shot to back Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto. The veteran pitcher won for the 128th time in his career, and moved to 2-0 on the season, pitching 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and two runs.

“Johnny pitched great and he was able to go deeper into the game for us,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We asked a lot of him and he gave us a lot of pitches. We were able to hand the ball over to the bullpen and they did a nice job for us.”

While Kapler has walked on eggshells in regards to how he utilizes his pitching staff, penciling in his offensive lineup has been a comparative joy. Donovan Solano and Mike Yastrzemski have parked themselves among the league leaders in several offensive categories. The Giants are slighty above MLB average in home runs, triples and RBI. It’s a start for now, and it appears to be picking up steam. In the last eight games, the Giants have hit 13 homers while hitting .295 with runners in scoring position.

When Kapler was forming Wednesday’s lineup against left-hander Patrick Sandoval, Slater with his impressive numbers against lefties had to be penciled in as the DH batting leadoff. Flores or Belt at first base was a tougher call, but only because both are swinging the bat well. This time, Flores got the nod.

“You’re trying to give everyone an opportunity and stay sensitive to the fact that guys are making adjustments and trying to get better,” Kapler said. “This was one of those days. This was one of those lineups.”

Flores rewarded with two hits and four RBI while his batting average climbed to .301. Yastrzemski had a pair of knocks to lift his average to. 318. And Slater’s home run, single and a walk got his OBP to a team-best .453.

That’s progress for a club that at 10-16 is taking its lumps, but showing up everyday and playing for a new manager under unique circumstances.

Meanwhile, the Angels have had little go right in the last week outside of taking advantage of Trevor Gott on Monday for their only win of the stretch. At 8-17, they’re experiencing their worst 25-game start to a season in franchise history.

When the lineup, includes superstar Mike Trout, World Series MVP Anthony Rendon, high-priced import Shohei Ohtani, and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, that’s not pretty. Manager Joe Maddon, also in his first year, has been through plenty, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

“These are the moments when you just really, you do have to dig down deeply and you do have to fight through them and you do have to keep pushing to come out the other side,” Maddon said. “In our game, the thing that we have to do consistently well, and I’m not banging on the pitching, we just have to pitch more consistently.”

On Thursday, the Giants and starter Kevin Gausman will face lefty Jose Suarez in his season debut for the Angels.

Pillar goes 5-for-5, Belt gets grand slam in Giants’ 5-run win, 11-6

sfgate.com photo: San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt hits a grand slam against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning during a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Phoenix.

In what is the San Francisco Giants’ last trip to Chase Field this season, the team is on fire through the first three games of the series.

Kevin Pillar went 5-for-5, Brandon Belt hit a grand slam and drove in six runs and the Giants defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-6 at Chase Field.

With the victory, the Giants clinched the four-game series with one game remaining on Sunday afternoon and Madison Bumgarner on the mound.

Rookie Logan Webb, who grew up in Rocklin made his major-league debut went five innings, allowing two runs (one earned), giving up five hits, walking one and striking out seven, as he picked up the win in his debut.

Webb, who just returned from an 80-game suspension in July for testing positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs.

The right-hander made three starts at Double-A Richmond and then one at Triple-A Sacramento this past Monday.

Things did not start out well for Webb, as he allowed two runs in the bottom of the first inning, as Jarrod Dyson singled to lead off the inning, and then scored on a Wilmer Flores double. After Webb got Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta, Flores scored on a throwing error on a ball hit by Adam Jones.

Webb got out of the jam, as he got Jake Lamb to ground out to first base to end the inning.

That lead for the Diamondbacks would not last long, as Alex Dickerson led off the second inning with a walk, then Flores committed a throwing error, as he tried to flip the ball to Nick Ahmed at second base.

Pillar then came up with his first hit of the game that loaded the bases, and then Belt hit a grand slam that gave the Giants the lead for good.

It was the second career grand slam for Belt, who last hit one off of Luis Perdomo of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on April 7, 2017.

Brandon Crawford got into the act following the Belt home run, as he singled; however, Webb popped out on a sacrifice attempt for the first out of the inning.

Mike Yastrzemski, who hit three home runs on Friday night then singled to right field and then Stephen Vogt loaded the bases with a base hit of his own.

Evan Longoria drove in the fifth run of the inning, as he hit a sacrifice fly that scored Crawford from third base and sent Yastrzemski to third base.

Diamondbacks pitcher Taylor Clarke did not get out of the second inning, as he went 1.2 innings, allowing five runs (three earned), walking one and striking out one.

Belt drove in his fifth run of the game in the top of the third inning, as he hit an opposite field single to left field that scored Pillar.

The Giants scored another run in the top of the sixth inning, as Longoria grounded into a double play that scored Austin Slater.

Crawford drove in his first run of the game, as he grounded out to Flores that allowed Scooter Gennett from third base.

Slater, who went 2-for-3 on the game after coming into the game on a double switch that saw Yastrzemski move to left field for Dickerson and Slater went into right field, singled to left field to score Pillar to give the Giants what looked like a commanding seven run lead.

The Diamondbacks, who scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Friday night to tie up the game began the comeback, as Christian Walker hit a solo home run and then Escobar hit a sacrifice fly that scored Dyson in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Pillar drove in a run with his fifth hit of the game that scored Longoria, who singled to lead off the inning.

Belt then drove in his sixth run of the game, as he grounded out to Flores that scored Gennett from third base.

The final two runs of the game came when Ahmed hit a two-run home run off the foul pole in the bottom of the eighth inning.

With the score 11-6 in the top of the ninth inning, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo sent his catcher Alex Avila to the mound and he pitched a perfect ninth inning that included striking out Yastrzemski for the second out of the inning.

Jandel Gustave came on to close it out for the Giants in a non-save situation, and the game ended on a great play from Slater to Gennett to Longoria, as Escobar tried to stretch a double into a triple; however, Slater made a perfect throw to Gennett, who threw to Longoria to end the game.

NOTES: With the addition of Webb to the roster, Joey Rickard was optioned to Sacramento to make room for Webb.

The Giants went 7-for-16 with Runners In Scoring Position.

UP NEXT: Bumgarner will take the mound on Sunday for the Giants, while the Diamondbacks, who will try to avoid the sweep will send Merrill Kelly to the hill.

Flores hits a walk-off home run to give the Mets a 6-5 win over the Athletics

by Charlie O. Mallonee

mlb-oakland-athletics-at-new-york-mets-cdcdafd204790397 TWO

The Oakland Athletics have the worst road record (15-31) in the major leagues. It is one of the main reasons they are mired in last place in the American League West and are about to dismantle their team to begin a major rebuilding process.

On Saturday night after jumping out to a 5-0 lead over the New York Mets, the A’s allowed the Metropolitans to claw their way back into the game. The Mets tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning when Lucas Duda hit a single off Daniel Coulombe that drove Travis d’Arnaud home from second base.

In the bottom of the ninth with two out and the bases empty, Wilmer Flores hit the 1-0 pitch from A’s reliever Simon Castro into the first row of seats in left field to give the Mets a 6-5 win. It was the ninth home run of the season for Flores and the second consecutive win for the Mets (45-50) over the Athletics (43-54).

In the batter’s box

Oakland

  • Matt Joyce put the A’s on the board in the first inning when he hit the 0-1 pitch from Zack Wheeler over the center field fence for his 13th home run of the year. Joyce now has 39 RBI for the season.
  • Matt Chapman showed off his power hitting by putting a Wheeler pitch into the second deck in left field for his third home run of the year. Chapman also had a sacrifice fly in the game to give him two RBI. He has seven RBI since joining the A’s.
  • Catcher Bruce Maxwell hit an RBI-double.
  • The A’s scored five runs on 10 hits and left nine runners on base. They were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

NYM

  • Flores — who is one of the Mets that does not appear to be on the trading block — went 2-for-5 including that game winning walk-off home run. Flores also hit his 13th double of the year in the game and scored two runs.
  • Jose Reyes hit his sixth triple of the season and also scored a run while going 2-for-4 for New York.
  • Jay Bruce hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning. It was his 25th home run and it raised his RBI total to 65. Bruce is one the Mets who is expected to be with another team by the July 31 trade deadline.
  • Travis d’Arnaud made it safely to base four times in the game. He went 3-for-3 with a walk. d’Arnaud scored a run and added an RBI.
  • The Mets scored six runs on 14 hits. They left eight men on base and were 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

On the hill

Athletics

  • Starter Sean Manaea pitched well through the first five innings but ran into some real problems in the sixth inning when he gave up four earned-runs. Manaea worked 5.2-innings giving up four runs (all earned) on 10 hits. He struck out two and walked one while allowing one home run. Manaea did not figure in the final decision.
  • The A’s relief corps was roughed up in the game. Hendriks gave up two runs, Coulombe was charged with a blown save and Simon Castro took the loss for giving up the game winning home run to Flores.
  • Newcomer Blake Treinen was credited with a hold.

Mets

  • Starter Zack Wheeler gave up five runs (all earned) on seven hits in 5.0-innings of work. He struck out six and walked four batters while giving up two home runs. He did not figure into the final decision.
  • The trio of Mets relievers — Smoker, Edgin and Robles — did not give up a run to the A’s in the final four innings of the game.
  • Hansel Robles (6-1) was the pitcher of record when Flores hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth and he was credited with the win.

Up next

The A’s and Mets will meet on Sunday for the third and final game of the series. Oakland will send RHP Daniel Gossett (1-5, 5.79 ERA) to the mound to face RHP Rafael Montero (1-6, 5.40 ERA) who will start for the Mets. Game time is 10:10 a.m. PDT.