The Astros scored the winning run because of the call.
The Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers in strange fashion on Sunday afternoon in Arlington.
With runners on second and third in the eighth inning and Astros slugger Evan Gattis at the plate, Texas Rangers pitcher Koene Kela made a quick pitch that was called a ball.
After the pitch, Astros manager A.J. Hinch came out of the dugout to point out to the umpires that the pitch should have resulted in a balk. After a discussion between the crew, the umpires agreed with Hinch, allowing George Springer to score the winning run from third base. Rangers manager Jeff Banister was understandably furious and was subsequently ejected from the game for arguing.
At the time, the score was 7-7 and Springer’s run was all Houston needed, as they held on for the 8-7 win.
The balk rule is stated as follows: “Pitchers may disengage the rubber after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the rubber and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire. When the pitcher disengages the rubber, he must drop his hands to his sides.”
“It’s clear as day what happened. It’s a weird play and it caught everybody off guard, including the umpiring crew,” Hinch said. “It’s an illegal pitch with a runner on third. And Kela does that all the time with nobody on, so I think he was so focused on the hitter he decided to do a quick pitch, which you can’t do — it’s a balk. So once they convened I could overhear a little bit of the conversation and ultimately they got the game right.”
Bannister took issue with “nobody on the field originally [calling] a balk.”
“The explanation was to me that Key didn’t tell anybody that he was going out of the windup. … I’ve never seen a non-balk call turned over and called a balk,” he said. “My argument was that I didn’t know that we could come out and get the umpires to convene to try to see what everybody came up with. It’s upsetting in a sense that you can’t ague against a balk,” he said.
The Astros swept the Rangers in the four-game series.