Critical call goes against Angels in loss to Astros

Tribune Content Agency

HOUSTON — Someday, perhaps in the next year or two, baseball games won’t turn on calls like the one that earned Phil Nevin an early exit on Thursday night.

The Angels manager was ejected after arguing a called third strike at a critical moment in the Angels’ 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros.

While the Angels did other things wrong to lose this game – most notably a failure to hit with runners in scoring position and Reid Detmers’ inability to maintain his early effectiveness – the moment that will stick out from this one was a call by home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater in the sixth inning.

The Angels were trailing 4-2, but they had loaded the bases with one out. Taylor Ward, who had driven in the game’s first run, worked the count full against right-hander Hector Neris. Ward then took a sinker that replays showed was low. Scheurwater rang him up for strike three.

Ward had a few words for Scheurwater as he walked back to the dugout, and Nevin was quickly out of the dugout to argue the call, which is an automatic ejection. Once Scheurwater tossed Nevin, he got his money’s worth by going toe to toe with the umpire.

It was the type of call that leaves people wanting to see some form of an automatic strike zone in the major leagues. Various versions of it have been tested in the minors. This year in Triple-A, they are playing half the games with all balls and strikes automated, and half with a challenge system.

Despite the call, the Angels still had Mike Trout at the plate with the bases loaded, a base hit away from tying the score. Trout hit a pop-up.

The Angels were 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position in the game. Shohei Ohtani struck out to leave the bases loaded in the second.

The Angels have struggled with runners in scoring position for most of the season, just as Detmers has had a similar problem throughout his disappointing season.

He allowed just one run over the first four innings, at times cruising through the lineup efficiently.

Detmers took the mound in the fifth with a 2-1 lead after Brandon Drury’s homer, and he wasn’t the same pitcher. Detmers gave up three runs in fifth, the first one driven in by No. 9 hitter Yainer Diaz on an 0-and-2 fastball.

Later in the inning, Alex Bregman then yanked a two-out, bases-loaded single just under the glove of third baseman Gio Urshela.

Although Detmers’ troubles started with his second look at the bottom of the Astros’ order, in general, he’s struggled when hitters see him for the third time. Coming into the game, Detmers had allowed an OPS of 1.354 the third time through the order.

After having a breakout season with a 3.77 ERA last year, Detmers is now 0-5 with a 5.15 ERA.