Baseball is a very human game. People are calling for robot-umpires, but those could take the weirdness out of baseball. Things would be considerably more consistent and fair, but they would make Sunday Shenanigans a lot more difficult. This week is a perfect example of that. In a game between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, Detroit pitcher Kyle Funkhouser received a bad break.
You can find past entries of Sunday Shenanigans here.
A Tight Game
In a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning, manager AJ Hinch went to Funkhouser. After getting the first man out, third baseman Gio Urshela stepped up. The first pitch was high for ball one. Then, a foul ball and a called strike got Funkhouser up in the count, 1-2.
Next comes the pitch in question. Urshela tried to get out of the way on a ball up-and-in, but the ball hit his bat and rocketed to the first base dugout. However, it seemed like no one but Urshela realized that it was a foul ball. So, the count remained 1-2 really, but for everyone else, it was 2-2. The next pitch was high, and after three consecutive foul balls, Funkhouser threw outside for the third ball, and Urshela took his base.
The crazy thing is that no one even contested this. Hinch, Funkhouser, the umpire crew, or anyone else on the Tigers should have paid enough attention to realize this blunder. But no one did, and Urshela received a free base.
The Yankees were terrible offensively in this series, as the last-place Tigers eventually swept them. So, the free runner was a big help. Unfortunately, Urshela never went anywhere, and the game remained one apiece.
After the Tigers won, reporters asked Hinch about the incident. He, of course, said that he had no idea and didn’t know about it until after the game. “The guy that told me was Casey Mize when we were in the handshake line, so excited. He wanted to make sure I knew and then obviously our people told us as well,” Hinch said.
Even the umpires spoke about it. Vic Carapazza was at home plate, but crew chief and second base ump Jerry Meals said he “Didn’t know anything about it until after the game.”
While nothing important came of this blunder, it would have been fun if it did. The chaos of the Tigers potentially losing a game because the ump awarded a runner a base he did not deserve would have been insane. Luckily for Funkhouser, his ERA did not go up because of a literal unearned runner.
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