Not 1, not 2 ... Marlins' Bleier called for 3 balks in same AB

September 28th, 2022

NEW YORK -- The Marlins were the spoilers on Monday night at Citi Field by defeating the Mets, 6-4. But the victory, which dropped the Mets into a tie for first place in the National League East, took a backseat to what happened in the eighth inning.

Marlins reliever and manager Don Mattingly were ejected after Bleier committed three balks -- yes, three -- in the same inning.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Mattingly said. “The guy hasn’t balked in seven years and all of a sudden he has three on one hitter. It’s frustrating, that’s for sure. But at the end of the day, we got a win, so I’m not going to worry about it.”

It was the first time since 1988 that a pitcher balked thrice in the same inning. It happened twice that year, first by Tigers right-hander Don Heinkel on May 3, against the A’s, then by Pirates right-hander Jim Gott on Aug. 6, against the Mets. The last pitcher to have three balks at any point in a game was Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey on May 17, 2009, vs. the Giants.

Bleier has played in the Major Leagues for seven seasons and had never been called for a balk until Tuesday. With Jeff McNeil on first base and the Marlins leading, 6-3, Bleier was called for his first balk as he delivered his first pitch to Pete Alonso. First-base umpire John Tumpane’s ruling allowed McNeil to advance to second.

Bleier was stunned and felt he didn’t do anything wrong. On the next offering, Tumpane called Bleier for his second balk, which allowed McNeil to advance to third base.

“In the beginning, he said I didn’t come [to a stop], which I clearly disagreed with,” Bleier said. “It’s the same move I’ve been doing my entire career. I have never been called for a balk ever. The first one, which I don’t think was a balk, I watched the video. After that, they were clearly not balks. Words cannot describe what just happened in that inning.”

After the second balk, Tumpane decided to explain to Bleier what he was doing wrong.

“From where I was, I didn’t have [Bleier] come to a complete stop before delivering to the plate,” Tumpane told “So I called the balk. It obviously happened again. I tried to give an explanation to clear it up.”

The at-bat continued and Bleier balked again, allowing McNeil to trot home for a run.

“We came to the same decision that he didn’t come to a stop to force another balk, which led to the discussion with Mattingly,” Tumpane said.

Mattingly argued and was soon ejected.

After the inning ended with Alonso grounding out, Bleier yelled at the umpires and he too was tossed from the game.

Mets manager Buck Showwalter managed Bleier in 2017 and '18 when they were both with the Orioles. The trio of balks didn’t surprise him.

"I've had Richard. We were told a little while ago, not too long ago, that there was a thing about that -- pitchers not coming to a complete stop,” Showalter said. “We knew it was something they were going to be cracking down on a little harder. A lot of those things are in the eye of the beholder. I'm not really surprised by it, but it's their business.”