The Pirates did not deserve to win yesterday’s game in Milwaukee. They managed just one run on nine hits and four walks, stranding eight base runners and hitting into four double plays in the process. This output came against a struggling Jeff Suppan, who lugged a 5.73 FIP into the game. No, with offense like that, the Pirates did not deserve to win.
However, Ross Ohlendorf did not deserve to lose. Ohlendorf cruised through four innings, locked in a 1-1 tie with Suppan. He unraveled in the fifth, allowing three runs en route to a 4-1 loss. But let’s take a look at how that inning unfolded. Ohlendorf jammed the leadoff hitter, leading to a soft pop-up behind the pitcher’s mound. It fell between everyone, skipped past Ronny Cedeno, and went for a uninspiring single. One out later, Jason Kendall bounced a ball just inside third base for a double, and the Pirates intentionally walked Frank Catalanotto to load the bases for Suppan with one out.
Already experiencing some bad fortune, Ohlendorf was royally screwed by home plate umpire Damien Beal during the Suppan at-bat. Suppan was clearly content to stand like a statue at the plate, and Beal (apparently) was subsequently overwhelmed with sympathy, refusing to ring him up as Ohlendorf repeatedly pounded the strike zone. Courtesy of Brooks Baseball, here is the pitch location of that confrontation (from the viewpoint of the catcher).
Six pitches, four clearly in the strike zone, zero swings, and an RBI walk for Suppan. One out later, Craig Counsell flared a soft single to left, scoring two more runs. Final score 4-1.
Again, the Pirates did not deserve to win after scoring just one run. But Beal’s calls in the Suppan at-bat were lacking, to say the least.