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The Thursday Takeaway

“Ball don’t lie," or so the story goes. Perhaps we should say “replay don’t lie” when it comes to baseball, or more specifically Thursday’s Astros-Indians game. What was called a wild pitch resulted in two runs and an ejection, and most certainly wasn’t actually a wild pitch.

It would be easy to make fun of umpire Jim Joyce here. Nearly every video angle blatantly shows the ball deflecting off the bat. This was not just a wrong call, it was a call that could have been so easily avoided. How else could the ball move at such an odd angle? How did all the umpires getting together miss this?

Did Joyce simply overrule all of them? Were they all in initial agreement?

There’s no way of knowing if this wild pitch that wasn’t was the reason the Astros ended up losing the game, but it certainly contributed to their 10-7 loss. It stirs up questions of why this kind of play isn’t reviewable by the umpires.

It’s silly, basic stuff like this that makes fans pull their hair out. Umpiring is a hard job, especially when done from behind the plate. Joyce has worked a long, long time at this. He is not a perfect man. Mistakes happen, including ones of this size concerning two playoff-hopeful teams in the heat of September.

Foul balls likely aren’t reviewable because of the ticky-tack challenges that would probably be spawned by nit-picky managers. Plays like this make one wish that the rules weren’t that way.

Quick Hits from Thursday

The Yankees have no right to still be in the thick of things, but here we are. After trading away three of their best players (and another, whom we’ll get to in a second) and handing heaps of playing time to rookies, they’ve somehow gotten better. They won their fifth straight game on Thursday, courtesy of a walk-off home run from Baby Bomber Tyler Austin.

A former top-100 prospect, Austin fell into obscurity for two years before reemerging with some serious opposite-field power. Still just 25, his strong performance this season earned him a call-up and a fair share of the playing time at first base. The Yankees find themselves a flabbergasting two games out of the wild card, and four games out of first place. Madness.

***

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, a former Yankee is getting the Ray Searage treatment. Entering his outing on Thursday, Ivan Nova carried a 0.99 WHIP as a Pirate in just over 37 innings of work. He had a 1.37 WHIP as a Yankee.

Nova got to face the Reds on Thursday. That’s a gift for any pitcher. For a pitcher under the influence of some fresh Searage devil magic, it’s a godsend.

Nova worked nine innings of one-run ball. He is undefeated as a Pirate. Not bad for a rental they acquired for two players to be named later. One can only assume he’ll sign with an AL club over the winter and contend for the Cy Young.

***

Adrian Beltre is a character ripped out of a Buster Keaton movie. The signs are all there. The funky mannerisms related to his head. The slapstick movements on the field.

Look at that. Who but a human cartoon character could do that and still get a hit? He’s a fantastic hitter, an elite defender, and a future Hall of Famer.

And, maybe, one day he’ll star in one of those talkie pictures.

Defensive Play of the Day

Fundamentals are the key to making great defensive plays in the outfield. All the athletic ability in the world won’t save you if you don’t know how to track a ball properly, and know the dimensions of the park you’re playing in like the back of your hand.

For Aaron Altherr, it’s all there.

What to Watch on Friday

Clayton Kershaw returns to our favorite game and all of our hearts (though, honestly, if he left yours, then shame on you). He gets to do it against Jose Fernandez. The two best pitchers in baseball will do battle in Miami, and you get to watch it. You do! The sports gods have blessed us with this matchup, and it is our sovereign duty to watch it.

Should that somehow not give you a sufficient baseball fix for the day, two of the league’s best young rosters will meet in Houston when the Cubs leave the Friendly Confines and head south to take on their old NL Central rivals. It’ll be Jon Lester and Joe Musgrove on the mound, although not at the same time.

There isn’t exactly a game that looks good on paper for the west coast. I guess you could watch Yu Darvish dunk on the Angels, and enjoy what you can of the Tyler Skaggs comeback tour. Also, Mike Trout, who is good at baseball.

Thank you for reading

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bhacking
9/09
2016 and baseball rules allow a bad call like that to stand. Embarrassing is the only thing I can think of.
oldbopper
9/10
Jim Joyce has now made three of the worst calls in the history of the game. First he almost cost the Red Sox Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS when he blew the call on Mark Bellhorn's HR. Thank God that Joe West had the guts to overturn it. Next on his list of ignominy was the call that cost Armando Gallaraga his perfect game, now this one which, by any measure of incompetence, is the worst call of them all. Yes, we fans do get frustrated over Ron Kulpa's strike zone, Phil Cuzzi's call on Joe Mauer's hit that landed a foot fair but called foul and many, many others. but the fact that there is seldom, if ever, a explanation given for the calls is tough to take.