The Phillies’ bullpen doesn’t have much margin for error, so when a clear strike call goes against them, it almost feels like a harbinger of doom.
In the sixth inning Friday night, home plate umpire Chris Conroy blew a call with two strikes to Rays hitter Brett Phillips. Tommy Hunter had Phillips struck out with a 94 mph sinker that caught a lot of the plate but it was called a ball.
It’s even clearer in the chart below — the pitch on the upper, inner part of the plate.
The next pitch was a game-tying home run.
“It’s really, really frustrating,” manager Joe Girardi said of the missed strike three call. “But we’ve got to score more runs. We’ve got to be able to tack on runs. I’m not gonna blame that on the umpire.”
It reset the game after the Phillies jumped out to a three-run lead behind the bats of Alec Bohm, Bryce Harper and Scott Kingery.
The Rays went on to win 6-4, to put the Phillies’ playoff hopes on life support.
For what it’s worth, Conroy did call a pitch in almost the exact same spot earlier from Vince Velasquez a ball.
Velasquez started and pitched OK. He allowed three runs in 4⅓ innings but needed 92 pitches. The Phillies obviously needed more length than that with their league-worst bullpen.