Tuesday, like the night before it, featured an unusual sequence of called strikes. The weirdness happened during the ninth inning of the Brewers-Cubs game. Newly appointed Chicago closer Kyuji Fujikawa started his shift against Milwaukee outfielder Logan Schafer. After missing high with a fastball to begin the at-bat, Fujikawa recovered to throw three consecutive fastballs for called strikes en route to a leadoff strikeout. If only it were that simple.
Fujikawa did throw three consecutive called strikes and did notch the K, but he did so in an odd manner. On each of the pitches Fujikawa missed his target by a considerable amount. Don't take my word for it, here are stills from the first two strikes that show the target and the location:
In both instances catcher Welington Castillo sets up for a pitch down and away, and in both instances Castillo must stab back across the plate to catch the ball. Yet home-plate umpire Alan Porter called each pitch a strike. Fujikawa, sensing a challenge, took things a step further on the two-strike offering. On this pitch Castillo rode the elevator to the top of his crouch and set his mitt up across from Schafer's letters. By the time Castillo secured the pitch, however, he was back down in normal position and his mitt was across from Schafer's knees. Strike three:
What makes this a notable sequence of called strikes is that you can view Porter as being 100 percent correct or incorrect depending on your point of view: Either he did his job well by focusing on the ball's location as it crossed the plate, or he did his job poorly by rewarding poor command and poor presentation. It's up to you. Just know that those who followed along through GameDay thought he did a marvelous job: