PITTSBURGH — Though the Chicago Cubs won their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a six-run ninth inning on Friday night, the 9-5 victory didn’t really help calm anyone in the clubhouse afterward.
The Cubs were upset by an overturned home run call on first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the first inning. Rizzo thought he had led off his third consecutive game with a long ball when he crushed a Trevor Williams 1-1 pitch down the right-field line, high above the foul pole.
First-base umpire Clint Fagan immediately called the ball fair before the umpires converged for a meeting near the pitcher’s mound. They changed the call to foul and then issued a crew chief video review, which did not confirm the call, declaring only that it “stood.” There’s a major distinction between the two, because when a call stands, the decision on the field is the one that sticks.
The Cubs contend the umpires should have gone straight to replay instead of first changing the call — so the eventual outcome would have been a home run.
Chicago manager Joe Maddon was kicked out for arguing after the video replay, though he chased crew chief Jeff Kellogg down at third base to get his money’s worth before leaving.
“You have basically neutered instant replay by the way it was handled tonight,” Maddon said after the Cubs’ victory. “If it had been confirmed foul, I’m fine. But the play stood. So in other words, if we had gone right to replay immediately after it was hit, and they said it was foul, I would have been in the game for nine innings.”
Rizzo was most upset that the umpires did not confer later in the game, when Gregory Polanco hit a ball in a similar spot. They declared it foul, then went straight to replay.
“I wish the call was confirmed,” Rizzo said. “The guy made the call, then they’re going to gather? Then they don’t gather for Polanco’s? That’s kind of bulls—, in my opinion.”
Maddon never did see a replay and didn’t really care if it was actually fair or foul; he was most upset with the process.
“Anthony probably had a chance to go into the record books, with three leadoff home runs,” Maddon said. “Our game is based on that stuff [statistics]. The first-base umpire was demonstrative that baseball was fair … Why change it?”
That was only the beginning of a wild first inning.
Rizzo eventually walked but was forced out on a close play at third when Kyle Schwarber hit a bloop in front of Adam Frazier. The Cubs came close to challenging but chose not to, going on to score three runs in the inning.
They were the Cubs’ only runs until a six-run rally in the ninth.
But the first-inning drama didn’t end there, as starter Eddie Butler was forced to cut off the white sleeves under his jersey just after finishing warm-ups in the bottom of the inning. They were part of throwback uniforms both teams were wearing.
Butler knew he was probably going to get caught. Pitchers aren’t allowed to wear white sleeves, because they interfere with hitters’ and umpires’ ability to see the ball.
“If they’re going to provide it, we’ll wear it,” he said. “You’re not allowed to wear a white sleeve.”
The Cubs evened their record at 33-33 after the wild victory, winning just their second road game in their past 12.