xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

O'Day: Umpire 'absolutely embarrassed himself' on blown call

Darren O'Day isn't one to complain, and his ability to remain composed throughout tight situations is one of the main reasons he's one of the game's top set-up men.

O'Day is rarely rattled, so to hear the frustration in his voice following the Orioles' 6-5 loss Sunday afternoon – and the criticism he directed at first-base umpire Mark Wegner following a check-swing appeal call that went against the Orioles and set off a sad script of events that cost them the game – was eye-opening.

Advertisement

"It's tough to be an umpire, man," O'Day said. "It's a tough job, but you've got to be better than that."

The Orioles were four outs away from winning their eighth straight game and completing a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. They held a one-run lead with O'Day on the mound. He had struck out the first two batters of the inning, and got Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez to a 2-2 count. Then, he delivered a tantalizing 80-mph slider on which Martinez began to swing before attempting to check it.

Advertisement
Advertisement

O'Day thought Martinez swung, as did the Orioles dugout, but when home-plate umpire Jeff Kellogg asked Wegner for help, the first-base umpire ruled Martinez didn't swing.

The call gave the Tigers a second life, and Martinez hit O'Day's next pitch into the Orioles bullpen in left-center field to tie the game. O'Day's next pitch, a middle-in sinker to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, was sent into the left-field seats, giving Detroit a sudden 6-5 lead.

After the game, O'Day replayed the sequence out loud.

"It was a good pitch," O'Day said. "I tried to get him to swing at it and I did. Mark Wegner absolutely embarrassed himself. I have a great relationship with a lot of umpires. Some I consider friends. They have a tough job. It's a judgment call. But that was pretty egregious. You look at all the replays, it's a swing. Hitters [who are] that good don't need extra chances.

Advertisement

"… It's strike three," O'Day added. "I was heading to the dugout. … I'll take the loss. I blew it. The pitch to Cabrera was especially bad. That's not like me. I'm pretty collected out there. I'll take that loss. It's under my name in the box score, but that was terrible, terrible. Games like that, assuming [closer] Zach [Britton] does what he normally does in the ninth inning, that's a win and a series sweep against a really good team."

Replays showed Martinez's bat barrel went mostly across the plate, and it looked similar to the third-strike appeal call that Wegner made on Orioles right fielder Joey Rickard in the second inning.

"It's a tough call," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's why we see so much inconsistency, evidently. It's something they need to get right. Obviously, there's so much discrepancy back and forth, so obviously the human eye has trouble with it. I'm sure in the future they'll fix that. Not in my time, I'm sure."

Even Martinez struggled to make a strong case that he didn't swing at the pitch.

"It was close," Martinez said. "I thought I held up right when I did it. I looked at it — borderline. It could have gone either way, I feel like. Fortunately enough, we had a call go our way. Everything's been going against us, so it's nice when you get something go your way like that."

O'Day had allowed just one home run this season through 61 batters before allowing back-to-back homers to Martinez and Cabrera, who, despite the Tigers' recent struggles, are a part of one of the league's top power-hitting lineups.

And O'Day realized how his criticism could be taken – a fine from the league office might follow – but he didn't hold back.

"Yeah, you know me complaining after the fact," O'Day said. "A lot of times stuff like that happens. Umpiring is a tough job. It's happened to me before, and I've gotten out of it before, and now I look petulant, whiny because I'm complaining about it, but there's no accountability, and that costs games.

"If we lose the division by one game, there's no telling what that costs," O'Day said. "When you're out there trying to do your job to the best of your ability, I'm trying to pitch. He's trying to umpire. Somebody dropped the ball today. I consequently dropped the ball after that."

O'Day had never previously allowed two homers in a single inning in his five seasons with the Orioles.

He said he wouldn't have taken back the home-run pitch to Martinez. The next pitch to Cabrera he called "terrible."

"He didn't make me throw the next two pitches," O'Day said. "It's frustrating. I take pride in my work. If a guy swings, it's strike three, so yeah I was frustrated about it, but being a relief pitcher, being a good pitcher at all, kind of blocking that stuff out, moving on to the next pitch, one pitch at a time."

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement