Atlanta left-hander Alex Wood battled Anthony Rendon for ten pitches before Washington's 23-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick singled to center to start the fifth inning against the Braves' 22-year-old, 2012 2nd Rounder. Nationals' starter Ross Ohlendorf bunted the runner over to second and an error on a Denard Span grounder to first allowed Rendon to take third. Wood's four-pitch walk to Ryan Zimmerman loaded the bases in what was a scoreless game to that point last night in the nation's capital.
Nats' slugger Jayson Werth worked the count full in the at bat that followed and took 92 mph fastball inside for what home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor said was ball four. Wood's second walk of the inning forced in a run. It also infuriated the rookie lefty, who unleashed a verbal assault on the veteran umpire. Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez sprinted out to the plate as Wood's teammates ushered him back to the mound from the infield grass. Bucknor tossed Gonzalez, but left Wood in the game.
A sac fly to center in the next at bat scored the Nats' second run and ended Wood's night. On his way back to the third base dugout in Nationals Park, the pitcher addressed the home plate ump once more, making his opinion of Bucknor's call clear. Wood might have had an argument. (see: pitch no.8):
Davey Johnson was asked after what ended up being a 5-2 loss to Atlanta in the series finale with the NL East leaders what he thought of the called ball four on Werth.
"People told me inside," the 70-year-old skipper said. "The ball was outside the box. It doesn't merit that kind of reaction at any time, so, he was on thin ice at that point."
"'After coming up here and looking at it from two or three different angles,'" Fredi Gonzalez told reporters including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien after the game, "'it was a tough pitch. But nevertheless, I thought it was a strike.'"
A reporter asked Davey Johnson if he thought Bucknor's zone was at least consistent for both sides throughout the night. "That's C.B.," Johnson said. "He's -- he's got a little different strike zone."
Here's the plot for all balls and strikes vs RHH called by CB Bucknor last night...
[ed. note - "Green squares and triangles are balls and red are strikes."]:
• Here's FBB's Doghouse's analysis of the strike zone via last night's post game WPA report:
"That isn't the worst zone in the world. In fact, it's a good bit more consistent that Todd Tichenor's was last night. A couple of low strikes to rights, and maybe a couple of fliers on the inside edge to RHHs... Looks like there's a called ball right on the edge of the rulebook zone where strikes has been called, as well as a called strike on the edge of the "as called" zone where balls had been called."
Bucknor's judgement was called into question again later in the game, but it wasn't the umpire's strike zone that Davey Johnson had an issue with, it was the warnings Bucknor issued to both benches after Braves' reliever Anthony Varvaro hit Rendon with a 93 mph 0-1 fastball with two out in the bottom of the sixth. Bucknor, apparently keenly aware of the HBP-filled history between the two teams this season, immediately issued warnings to both teams.
"And I questioned him," Johnson told reporters after the game. "I said, 'They have a one run lead. They're not going to hit anybody.' And his reply was that there was a warning from the league office that anything 'close.' Well, that's not close. You're not going to hit my eighth hole hitter in that situation."
The warnings meant that the Nationals' pitchers would have be careful pitching inside for the rest of the night as well. And, of course, an inning later, Craig Stammen hit Chris Johnson with an 0-2 fastball after the Braves had added a run on a Brian McCann double that made it 4-2 Atlanta.
Bucknor jumped out from behind the plate after the HBP and raised both arms. But he didn't toss anyone. Bucknor got that call right.
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- Game 152 WPA: Another unsatisfying series win. Nats 2, RFB 5
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