(BaseballStL) — Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb was lights out Wednesday, presiding over a 3-0 win that saw him strike out 10 Cardinal hitters.
Though the official box score won’t charge him with any walks in his dominating performance, the seventh inning saw him record a strikeout on a 4-2 count. In an incident that could have changed the game, Jon Jay stepped into the box with the Cardinals trailing 2-0.
Jay took a strike, then a ball, then another strike followed by a ball to match. With a 2-2 count, Cobb let go of a pitch that bounced in the dirt for ball three.
That’s when the confusion started.
“When it was really 3-2, I looked back and I asked what the count was because the board said 2-2,” Jay said.
While the Fox Sports Midwest broadcast displayed the count correctly at 3-2, Busch Stadium’s scoreboard held fast at 2-2.
Jay tried to clarify with home plate umpire Dan Bellino what the count was and before he could take a moment to think, he was back in the box for the next pitch.
It missed wide, and instead of trotting down to first, the Cardinal center fielder found himself at 3-2 for the second time in the at bat.
“I don’t even know what happened. I asked and the board said 2-2 and it was quick,” he said. “I was just worried about the at bat.”
After the game, Mike Matheny had no uncertainty.
“That was ball four. I missed it. He had an opportunity, he looked back. He thought it was ball four too,” he said.
Matheny took the blame for not catching the error, saying he lost track of the count along with everyone else on the club.
“The umpire was going along with the board and I didn’t have it,” he said. “That’s on me.”
Jay would foul off a pitch on 4-2 before taking a called third for Cobb’s tenth strikeout. Had Jay walked, it would have brought the tying run to the plate. With the Rays starter over 100 pitches, there was a chance it would have pushed him from the game, changing the equation in a tight contest.
The unorthodox situation falls under the umbrella of reviewable plays, but the manager has to initiate it.
While Matheny took the blame, there were plenty of eyes that failed to see the mistake. Bellino clearly lost track of the at bat, and though Jay stopped short of saying he was told an incorrect count, he seemingly felt confident he had walked.
“The pace of the game, everything just went by and it was just a weird thing,” he said. “A weird play.”
Once the at bat proceeded past the sixth pitch, there was nothing anyone could do about it. By the time Matheny was informed, Jay was on his own.
“That’s huge because that puts the tying run at the plate at that point,” the manager said. “He’s on his last leg right there.”
Cobb escaped with no damage, and the Cardinals went on to lose in listless fashion, striking out a total of 15 times.