The big swing today in the Rays' 7-3 victory over the Orioles was delivered by catcher Kelly Shoppach, who launched Brian Matusz's 2-2 pitch into the left-field seats for a go-ahead grand slam.
However, there was more discussion in the clubhouse about the previous pitch rather than the 2-2 90 miles per hour fastball that crossed the plate letter high and was promptly redirected into the seats. Matusz clearly believed the 1-2 pitch hit the inside corner and Shoppach should have been headed back to the dugout for the first out.He looked incredulously at home plate umpire Brian Knight after no strike was called.
Here are the thoughts from the participants on that sequence
Matusz: "I would have liked to get that call because I felt like that's exactly where I wanted to put it on him, but you got to be able to be tough in this game because you aren't going to be able to get everything. I got to be able to come back and repeat that pitch and I didn't."
Shoppach: "I might have caught a break on the 1-2 pitch. It was really close."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter: "You got to turn the page. That's part of it. I haven't looked at it, but I know the pitch you are talking about. You can't let one pitch do that to you. There's a lot of opportunities in this game, like I said, to make something not matter. We got a ball on the next pitch [and] you can't throw it there."
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters: "I don't think [the home run pitch] had anything to do with that pitch. He just didn't make a good pitch there on 2-2. It's something where it was a close pitch and we'd like to have that one, for sure. But you're not going to get every call so you're going to have to refocus and make your next pitch. It's something that you can learn from, that every pitch is just as important as your last one."
My take: I thought it was a strike, but no matter. Shoppach entered the game hitting .195 with one homer and six RBIs and with just one extra-base hit since June 30. You can't let him beat you in that situation and Matusz didn't get it done. Plus, he was erratic with his command his entire outing and often umpires won't give you close calls if you're not consistently in the zone.