It is a real shame when the focus of any baseball game becomes the umpires instead of the actual plays. But this seems to be an ever increasing trend as MLB continues to sweep bad umpiring under the rug.
After a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers last night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon got all bent out of shape about the performance of home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. Papelbon told reporters, “I thought he sucked. It’s that simple.”
Reyburn is a Triple-A umpire who was filling in. When given this information, Papelbon said, “Doesn’t surprise me. He probably needs to go back to Triple-A.” Papelbon also noted that Reyburn was bad throughout the game, for both teams, including Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.
It is easy to understand Papelbon’s frustration. Phillies starter Vance Worley had a hard time with the ball-strike calls in his first inning coming off the DL. That certainly did not help his recovery. Kershaw was equally frustrated and the both the Dodgers’ bench coach and manager were ejected by Reyburn as a result.
Then in the 9th inning, Papelbon had Dee Gordon struck out, but Reyburn missed the call. Gordon went on to hit a triple and score the winning run for the Dodgers.
While the ultimate outcome of the game cannot be blamed on Reyburn, he did certainly affect it. Still, the Phillies had their chances and blew it. But Papelbon makes a good point. And he did so knowing fully that there would be repercussions to his statements, likely to include a hefty fine. But it was really nice to see a guy willing to take a stand; I now have a new respect for Papelbon.
But the Phillies are really not doing a lot to help themselves here. They had only 8 hits in the game and left 6 runners on base in situations where the opportunity to score was high. The Phils wasted a Jimmy Rollins triple in the 5th by having him run on contact from third during Placido Polanco’s at-bat. Rollins was a dead duck at home plate when Polanco hit a hard grounder to short.
Then in the 7th, the Phillies hit 3 singles to load the bases, but Freddy Galvis was held at third by coach Juan Samuel on a ball bobbled by the Dodgers. He should have scored there. Hunter Pence came up and grounded out to end the inning. Pence has been awful with runners in scoring position, having successful in only 2 of his last 33 chances.
This loss puts the Phillies back at .500 baseball and 4 games out of first, dead last in the division. The Dodgers are a great team; if the Phillies do not pick it up in the next 3 games, they are going to find themselves in buried even further in the standings.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography