With the bases loaded and the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth inning, the New York Mets got a victory on Thursday’s home opener against the Miami Marlins when closer Anthony Bass hit Michael Conforto with a pitch.
However, it remains unclear if the ball hit Conforto in the elbow or not, and the Mets’ slugger appeared to lean into the pitch, which was in the strike zone. In fact, home plate umpire Ron Kulpa initially called Conforto out on strikes, but just seconds later reversed the decision and said the ball hit him, handing the victory to the Mets.
Don Mattingly, the Marlins’ skipper, argued with Kulpa about his decision, but to no avail. The Mets had won 3-2.
“Still kind of a little befuddled on what happened,” Marlins catcher Chad Wallach said. “I mean, we know what happened. He called it a strike and then changed his mind and called it a hit-by-pitch, so on that part we’re confused. I’ve never seen that before.”
The Mets’ Conforto knew there was going to be some controversy
Conforto explained what happened in that short period of time since Bass threw the ball towards home plate and it landed on Wallach’s mitt.
“It felt like it was coming back to me,” Conforto said of the pitch. “I turned. There may have been a little lift to my elbow just out of habit, out of reaction, and it barely skimmed the edge of my elbow guard. … I didn’t know what was going to happen after that moment. I knew there was going to be some controversy.”
In his postgame press conference, Conforto added, according to the Mets’ official site, that, “obviously, it was not the way that I wanted to win the ballgame,” before saying that “a win’s a win.”
The game rules state that a batter is indeed awarded a base after a hit by pitch, “unless (A) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (B) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.” Both conditions in the rule appear to support the Marlins’ thesis that the right call should have been a strikeout.
“The guy was hit by the pitch in the strike zone,” Kulpa told a pool reporter after the game. “I should have called him out.”