Kansas City -- As right-hander Peter Moylan walked off the pitcher's mound in the midst of the Blue Jays' five-run sixth inning on Sunday, he began to tell home-plate umpire John Tumpane his thoughts on the size of his strike zone. Tumpane quickly ejected Moylan, who continued to express his
Kansas City -- As right-hander Peter Moylan walked off the pitcher's mound in the midst of the Blue Jays' five-run sixth inning on Sunday, he began to tell home-plate umpire John Tumpane his thoughts on the size of his strike zone. Tumpane quickly ejected Moylan, who continued to express his displeasure as he walked off the field.
"I don't usually get emotional like that, but I had enough," Moylan said.
Moylan's reaction was the most visible form of dissatisfaction with Tumpane's strike zone, which the Royals were not pleased with in their 8-2 loss to Toronto, particularly during that pivotal sixth inning.
"An umpire's strike zone is an umpire's strike zone," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was consistent with it, it was just a very small zone."
Though starter Jason Hammel threw 105 pitches over five innings, a high pitch count Yost partially credited to the strike zone's size, the Royals' perspective on Tumpane's calls was not obvious until the top of the sixth inning, when the game was tied at 2.
That's when left-hander Scott Alexander entered the game and allowed the three batters he faced to reach base, two on walks. In the midst of his outing, Alexander, who took the loss, was visibly frustrated.
After Alexander issued his second walk, Moylan replaced him to face Jose Bautista. On a 2-1 pitch that Moylan believed to be a strike, Tumpane called a ball.
"In that situation, a 2-2 count versus a 3-1 count changes the whole at-bat," Moylan said. "Changes the whole game, really."
Moylan walked Bautista on the next pitch and the Blue Jays took the lead. He induced a ground ball from the next batter, but third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert dropped it and pulled Eric Hosmer off the bag at first base with his throw. All runners were safe. The Blue Jays led, 4-2. Two pitches later, Josh Donaldson hit a double, and Toronto took a four-run lead.
"There's computers out there now and everything gets tracked," Moylan said. "It's not like you have to guess. You can go back and look at it."
According to MLB.com's pitch tracker, there were five balls called during the inning that were within or on the border of the strike zone. Others ran close to it. Yost said he's seen those pitches called strikes, but knew it wasn't definite. Moylan, who was calm after the game, agreed.
"I don't want the umpire to try and change what I'm doing," Alexander said. "I felt like I was attacking the ball low in the zone. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't."
Wilson Alexander is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.