Pitching Change Causes Weird Controversy In Houston Astros Game

By Lee White
Wesley Wright Houston Astros
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Angels played the third game of a three-game series on Thursday. The Astros were going for their first sweep of the season and first since last May, and things had gone pretty much according to plan for them in this game. They were leading 5-3, and had Paul Clemens on the mound in the seventh inning.

Everything was gravy — that is, until there were two outs in the seventh.

The Astros’ manager Bo Porter pulled Clemens with two outs in favor of left-handed reliever Wesley Wright. Wright, a lefty specialist, was in for one reason and that was to get J.B. Shuck, a left-handed hitter, out. Wright had thrown four warm up pitches and was ready to throw a fifth pitch when Porter ran out to make another pitching change.

Based on the rule book, Wright had to face at least one batter, and this caused a bit of a controversy.

The umpires and Porter talked things out, and they proceeded to allow the change to be made. Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia came out to get an explanation as he should have, which forced the umpires to have yet another meeting on the diamond. Once they still allowed this move to be made, Scioscia made sure this game would finish under protest.

The Angels would come back to win this game, so the protest ended up not mattering. But, that didn’t mean there weren’t questions.

The rule is as follows: If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at-bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s’ judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.

Once the game was over, many, including myself, were still confused. Porter explained to the media that he did what he thought was best for his team. He went on to say that once a pitcher is brought in, said pitcher can be changed without facing a batter if the batter is lifted in favor of a pinch hitter. That, however, is not the case.

I, for one, don’t know what Porter was thinking. I’m still baffled by this move, and wish the Astros had won this game just for the chaos that was sure to follow. Scioscia and the Angels had a legitimate case and would have probably won the appeal.

Alas, the Angels won and the protested game meant nothing, except that the umpires didn’t stop a manager from breaking a rule right in front of their face.

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