I don't know what it is about the Tigers being on the wrong end of bad calls that are so blatantly incorrect that the umpires admit they blew it afterward, but for the second time this month it has happened.
Of course, we all remember Jim Joyce making the wrong call at first base earlier this month, costing Armando Galarraga a perfect game. That blown call became a national story and Joyce and Galarraga were commended for how they handled everything. Joyce manned up and admitted he blew the call, and Galarraga remained classy throughout the whole situation. Although the incident itself absolutely stunk and enraged baseball fans everywhere, this turned out to be a good story for sports in general just because of the great sportsmanship maintained by everybody involved.
Earlier today the Tigers were once again robbed by an umpire, and there is no chance this story will turn into a positive. While Joyce's call was awful because it robbed Galarraga of a perfect game, it didn't affect the outcome of the game. The Tigers got the next batter out and won the game. There's no doubt it was much more memorable because of the situation and the implications on history, but today's blown call was actually much worse for the Tigers.
Here's the situation: Detroit trailed Atlanta 4-1 heading into the top of the ninth. Miguel Cabrera hit a solo home run with one out to cut the lead down to two runs. Brennan Boesch came up next for the Tigers and struck out, giving Detroit two outs and no runners on base.
Suddenly, Atlanta's pitchers lost all control and started walking Tigers left and right. Takashi Saito put Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge on base, and Eric O'Flaherty came in and walked Danny Worth and Gerald Laird. The Laird walk scored Guillen, making it a one-run game.
Bobby Cox then put in Peter Moylan, but he fell behind Johnny Damon with a 3-1 count. Damon fouled off a few pitches, meaning there was a full count. A strike would end the game and a ball would tie things up. Moylan delivered another pitch with the count full and this time Damon did not swing, as the ball was clearly outside. It appeared that Damon would get to take first base and the Tigers would tie the game at 4 thanks to five straight walks. Instead, however, home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called a strike on Damon, ending the game.
Replays clearly showed that the call was wrong and the pitch was outside, but there was nothing the Tigers could do about it. There's no doubt they should have had a chance to take the lead or at the very least attempt to take the game into extra innings, but the blown call kept that from happening. Complaining won't change the call obviously, but reading stuff like this is just getting annoying.
Sitting at his locker and clearly unhappy with himself, home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom said that when he saw the replay of his game-ending strike-three call tonight on Johnny Damon, “It didn’t look very good.” [...]
“It was a sweeping pitch, going away from Damon,” Cederstrom said. “It looked good coming in, then broke late.
“My timing was fast. Whenever you have fast timing as an umpire, you usually get in trouble.”
I'd be willing to bet Cederstrom wanted to get the game over with considering how hot it was, but how about you take the time to make the right call next time. It's one thing to blow a call like that in an unimportant situation in the middle of the game or something, but to do it when the Tigers have the bases loaded and are a ball away from tying the game is just ridiculous. Also, it's not like the call should have even been close. The ball was clearly outside and wasn't a borderline call by any means. At least if it was 50/50 you could understand why the error was made, but that pitch was 100% outside and that call was 100% wrong.