BOSTON With two outs in the ninth and the tying and winning runs on base, Cody Ross struck out to end the Red Sox' 1-0 loss to the Rays Monday.
Of the five pitches Ross saw, he didnt swing at any of them. Perhaps that was because none of them were strikes at least according to video replays.
Home plate umpire Larry Vanover called all five offerings from Rays closer Fernando Rodney 97- and 98-mph fastballs strikes.
I didnt get to see it on video, manager Bobby Valentine said. If Codys not swinging at fastballs, I got to think that theyre not strikes, though.
Ross and Vanover exchanged thoughts, as Ross spiked his helmet on the plate.
Obviously, we disagreed. It happens, Ross said. He thought they were all strikes and I thought they were all balls. Thats just the way it goes sometimes. I havent had a chance to go look at the replay yet. I have no idea. Do you know?
Told that the pitches all looked like balls, Ross, who was 2-for-3, accounting for half the Sox hits in the game, replied:
Well, there you go. Its tough because Im up there battling my butt off, trying to get something going right there in a late situation. Its unacceptable. Im battling. Im bearing down, our whole teams bearing down, and everybody on the field should be bearing down.
Weve been playing this game for so long that you recognize pitches early and you see them out of the hand and you say thats a ball, and it crosses wherever and its called a strike. So Im taught, or Ive taught myself over the years, to take those pitches and not expand my strike zone. Make the pitcher make a mistake. Rodney didnt make a mistake. So, as soon as it comes out of his hand Im in shut-down mode. Im saying, No, thats a ball. The umpire calls Strike. All right, next one, Strike. I see ball, strike. So what are you going to do? Just move on and get them tomorrow.
But that does not diminish his frustration.
Its tough, Ross said. Thats the crazy thing about this game. If Im going up there and striking out every at-bat, Im going to get benched. But its not that way with the umpires. They can make bad calls all day and theyre not going to be held accountable for it. So, its tough. It's such a tough situation. And believe me, Ive umpired before. It's tough. Its hard. But at this level . . . I dont know what to say.
His teammates, though, did.
As far as the end of the game goes, those pitches that were called on Cody, thats just not right, said Adrian Gonzalez. Theyre in the left-handed hitters box and the way I see it is, we missed the playoffs by one game last year, and if he walks there, like he should have, or he swings and gets a hit, we end up winning today, that could make the difference. So those three pitches to Cody, that shouldnt happen.
What do you say to a teammate whos just ended a game in such ignominious fashion?
You cant say anything, Gonzalez said. You look at the video, you look at the over-the-top view and those pitches are in the left-handed batters box and theyre not even close. They dont start close and they dont end close. So its unfortunate for Cody to have to end the game like that.