Arlington, Texas — Referees never want to make themselves a story. If no one notices they’re there, they’re probably doing a good job. But on Saturday afternoon, on-field referee CB Bucknor made himself the story of the Phillies’ 16-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.
In the second half, up 3-2, Rangers kicker Nathan Ivaldi threw a 97-mile-per-hour four-seam fastball to Nick Castellanos. It was far from the area, but Bucknor called it a hit. In the top of the third inning, again, with a count of 3-2, Ivaldi threw a high jumper to Brandon Marsh. It was far from the area, but again, Bucknor called it a hit.
In the fourth inning, Ivaldi threw a four-seam fastball inside Marsh. Bucknor called it a third strike, but this time the stakes were higher. The call ended the inning, stranding runners at second and third base. If Bucknor had called the outfield a ball, the bases would have loaded for Trea Turner.
Ivaldi laughed to himself as he walked up from the mound. Marsh had a few choice words for Bucknor. There were no words of praise.
according to codifyBucknor missed 351 ball and strike calls last season. He made mistakes on Saturday that hurt the Rangers, too. It is difficult to say how much Bucknor influenced the outcome of the match. The Phillies pitching staff gave up 27 runs over his first two games of the season. You can’t blame it all on a referee. But the inconsistent strike zone certainly didn’t help.
“(The umpires) can have tremendous influence,” Marsh said. “All the power is in their hands. It’s just part of the game. I overreacted a bit there. It’s the attitude that made me, second and third, two hits, one of the best hitters on the planet to come next.
“It could have changed the whole outcome of the match. One swing and Trea put us over two in a grand slam. We just have to be better. It’s not about the referee, it’s about us. We have to be better as a unit.”
Phillies catcher Zach Wheeler was unable to get out of the fifth inning due to an erroneous four-ball call on at-bat Adulis García. The pitch Bucknor called for the ball landed on the bottom edge of the strike zone. Junior Mart, in his Phillies debut, trailed Wheeler with one runner and one out, and allowed a leadoff lead-out before striking out Robbie Grossman. On his next bunt, he gave up a three-run home run to Mitch Garver to give the Rangers a 7-3 lead.
If Bucknor had not made that error in García’s fifth inning bat, Martín would have had two runs behind and his strikeout would have ended the inning. Or maybe Marty didn’t have to rest Wheeler in the fifth inning at all.
It’s a crazy exercise. But Bucknor made enough mistakes on Saturday to make one wonder.
Things just kept falling apart from there. Garver hit his second home run of the day, on a three-run hit by Ceranthoni Dominguez, in the seventh inning to give the Rangers a 10-3 lead. Domínguez allowed a single and then hit the batter to put runners on first and second, and Marcos Semin reached base on a player’s choice to load the bases. Dominguez was unable to sign off and was replaced by Andrew Pilati.
“That was terrible,” Dominguez said of his outing. “I don’t feel good with myself now. Physically, I’m fine, just terrible results today.”
Pelatti allowed three more Rangers runs (all credited to Domínguez) on a sacrifice fly, groundout, and groundout. The Rangers hit three more in the bottom of the eighth, off utility run Josh Harrison, who entered the game after reliever Craig Kimbrell loaded the bases. Putting a player on the field, two games a season no less, is never a good sign.
“It’s definitely not what we expected,” said manager Rob Thompson. “But you have to throw the ball over the plate, keep the ball on the ground as much as you can, which we don’t do now. You just have to clean it up. The defense was sloppy today. A lot of things we don’t normally do. So we cleaned that up and we’ll do that, and we’ll move forward.” “.
Like Nola, Wheeler doesn’t get too deep
After only 3 scores from Aaron Nola on Opening Day, the Phillies needed a length from Wheeler. They didn’t get it. Wheeler struggled with his drive early against the Rangers, allowing a home run to Semin on his second pitch of the game, and a triple after that to score another run in the first inning.
He had more trouble in the third inning, allowing a double, single, and sack fly to score a third run. A fielding error by Turner during the next offense that was stopped on the Rangers fourth drive.
Wheeler seemed to get into a groove in the fourth, hitting the side, but any momentum he had built came to an abrupt halt when Bucknor accidentally called that inning fifth.
Thompson had to rely on the bullpen early in his first two games of the season, which could make things difficult in Games Three, Four and Five. Bailey Walter, turned rookie, will start Game 3, and reliever Matt Strahm, who fell out of the Padres’ rotation in 2019 but is still holding on, will start Game 5.
“We’ll have to figure it out, you can’t control it now,” Thompson said. “We just have to figure it out.”
One of the only bright spots was the catch Alec Baum made at third base in the second. With one out and one out, Semien stole a potential RBI double down the third base line. Boom dove to his right, extended his arm, and grabbed Simien’s line for the second of the half.
Good day on the billboard for the hall
Darrick Hall went 2-for-3. He hit a single off Eovaldi in the first inning and a double to right field off Eovaldi in the fourth inning. Hall was one of four Phillies to have a multi-hit game.
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