Let's start with the basics, courtesy of Zachary Levine:
3.05b: ...the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, OR ANY SUBSTITUTE BATTER until such batter is put out or reaches...
Let's call it the Porter-Wright Directive, because adding -gate to the end is so hipster.
Bo Porter is a new manager. Mike Scioscia has been around about 50,000 years. On this day, Bo Porter thought he was correct. The umpires backed him up during the game. Afterwards, the umpires did not have a comment on the play.
That's how the latest baseball controversy starts.
In the seventh inning, Porter brought in left-handed reliever Wesley Wright to pitch to left-handed batter J.B. Shuck.
Scioscia, trying for the platoon advantage, immediately pinch hit for Shuck with right-hander Angel Jimenez.
At that point, Porter went to talk with the umpire, told him his interpretation of the rule governing relievers is that once the batter is pinch-hit for, the pitcher no longer has to face him. The umpires buy this and bring in Hector Ambriz, a right-hander.
Scioscia loses his mind.
And the argument, but not before the Angels officially protest the outcome of the game, because of the illegal pitching move. Except that Bo Porter did not think it was illegal.
It technically wasn't, either, but it technically was, if that makes sense. The move became legal once the umpires allowed it, so there isn't a chance this game will be replayed, a la the George Brett Pine Tar Incident. However, as many interpretations this evening have shown, the umpiring crew got it wrong.
What's worse, they apparently tried to hide behind a no comment after the game. If they knew the ruling, they should have elaborated on that afterwards. By not saying anything, it gives credence to all those sharpening their knives.
And, oh, how those knives will be out tomorrow. Expect Porter to get hit for not knowing the rules. Expect the umpires to get hit for being incompetent and, worse, not knowing the rules. Expect the Angels to get hit for, you know, almost getting swept by the Astros.
Yeah, there was still a game to be played. Houston overcame a shaky control night from Lucas Harrell that saw the right-hander throw 106 pitches in 5 innings of work. Harrell walked six and struck out just one, but only allowed two runs (one earned) in those 5 innings.
The bottom of Houston's offense came through time and again, as Ronny Cedeno was 2 for 2 with two runs scored and a walk. Matt Dominguez was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, a strikeout and a pair of errors in the field. Kind of a hot-cold night for Matty D.
Jose Altuve continues to blister the baseball, going 3 for 5 with a run scored and raising his season average to .345.
And yet, those pesky Angels still got the victory after scoring three in the top of the eighth. An inning after entering the game illegally (but still legally), Ambriz gave up a bases-loaded double to Mark Trumbo to tie the score at 5-5. He was quickly replaced by Travis Blackley, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Alberto Callaspo, scoring Albert Pujols and giving the Angels their 6-5, protest tainted victory.
At least Houston had two web gems in the game. The first, courtesy of Jose Altuve:
The second comes from one Brandon Barnes.
I'll let you decide who gets the top spot. Just know I'll protest whatever choice you make.