Major League Baseball admitted umpires made a mistake in allowing the Astros to make consecutive pitching changes without the first reliever facing a batter.
The experienced crew of umpires, including veteran crew chief Fieldin Culbreth, Adrian Johnson, Brian O'Nora and Bill Welke, allowed rookie Astros manager Bo Porter to bring in lefthanded reliever Wesley Wright to face lefthanded hitter J.B. Shuck in the top of the seventh inning. When Porter saw that the Angels were sending righthanded hitter Luis Jimenez to the plate, Porter raced to the mound to call for righthander Hector Ambriz.
While Culbreth initially told Porter he could not lift Wright, Porter argued that a new rule permitted the move. Culbreth allowed the change, bringing Angels manager Mike Scioscia out to argue. Scioscia played the game under protest before Los Angeles eventually won, 6-5.
Porter told the Houston Chronicle:
"My understanding of the rule and I was fortunate enough last year to sit in with Davey (Johnson of the Nationals) when they changed the rule of a pitcher having to face a batter,” Porter said. “But at the same time if you pinch-hit for that batter, you now have the right to bring in another pitcher.
“So technically Wesley came in to face the batter that was scheduled to hit, but[(Scioscia] pinch hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit, which my understanding of the rule means you can now bring in another pitcher to face the pinch hitter.”
Rule 3.05b actually reads:
“If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.”It's the second questionable incident involving MLB umpires in consecutive days.