Yankees catcher returns to dugout despite swinging, missing on 1-1 count
BALTIMORE -- Chris Stewart was the subject of some ribbing in the Yankees' dugout on Thursday after the veteran catcher walked back to the bench, believing he had struck out with only two strikes in an at-bat in Thursday's 6-5 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards.
Stewart batted in the second inning against Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, taking a ball off the outside corner, fouling a ball back and then swinging and missing at strike two before essentially ruling himself out.
Though the scoreboard displayed the correct 1-2 count, none of the Yankees seemed to notice Stewart's mistake, and home-plate umpire Jim Wolf did not call Stewart back to the plate.
"[Wolf] said something the first pitch, and I thought he called it a strike," Stewart said. "I assumed it was 0-1, I fouled a ball off and I swung and missed at a ball. No one said anything; the umpire didn't say anything, so I just came on back to the dugout and put my stuff away."
Stewart wondered why Wolf did not call him back to the plate, saying that it would have been "a nice little courtesy." Chen, catcher Matt Wieters and the Orioles felt no need to call attention to the correct count.
"It has happened to me before, but I was shocked when he walked out of the box," Chen said. "He gives me an out, I'll take it. It's part of baseball."
Chen said that he once had a similar situation in Japan, where a batter worked a four-pitch walk but didn't realize it.
"That guy stayed in the box, so I just kept pitching to him," Chen said.
Stewart's confusion was sparked by Chen's first pitch, a changeup near the outer half of the plate. Wolf flinched slightly, but he never raised his arm to signal a strike. Stewart fouled back the second pitch of the at-bat and whiffed at the third pitch.
"I don't know. I was confused," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Who knows what happened there?"
Curtis Granderson then struck out for the final out of the second inning, a frame that was highlighted by Mark Reynolds' two-run homer.
The Yankees' YES Network broadcast later showed Stewart laughing in the dugout with bench coach Tony Pena, possibly about the odd situation. Stewart said that he found out from Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long a half-inning after the fact.
"The good thing is, we ended up winning and it doesn't mean anything. But I would've hit a home run if I'd stayed there," Stewart quipped.