(BaseballStL) – The bottom of the seventh inning was the only time Madison Bumgarner got into trouble against the Cardinals, but he may have gotten a break to keep it from getting a whole lot worse. With Tony Cruz at the plate and Yadier Molina on third, it looked like the umpires may have missed a balk call.
Video appears to show Bumgarner coming set, then moving his torso and arms as though his delivery is going to begin before stepping back off the mound in violation of the legal pitching delivery, rule 8.05.
"The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery."
With men on base (Jon Jay was also aboard at second), the penalty for such violation would be the advancement of both runners. For the Cardinals, it would have meant Molina scored from third and Jay moved up to third. It wasn't called, and everyone stayed put.
The next pitch, Bumgarner struck out Cruz to end the inning.
"[The] balk call would help only to the point of putting something on that board, and then that’s a momentum shifter, for sure," said Cards manager Mike Matheny, "So that did hurt."
When asked about the move after the game, Bumgarner said he knew it was close, but was confident he didn't violate the rule.
"You know, I don't think I did. I don't think I balked," he said. "I was about to deliver the pitch and I thought I may be getting ready to cross Buster up and obviously you don't want to do that. So I stepped off. But it was right before I was getting ready to deliver. It was close, no doubt about it. I can see why they may have a problem with it, but in my mind, I don't think that I balked."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he thought Bumgarner's step back from the mound was deceptive, but not illegal.
"It looked like he stepped back. I know it looked funny there, but it's a quick step back and you're allowed to do that," he said.
In the postseason, MLB puts six umpires out on the field instead of four. If commentary coming from national analysts and players was any indication, all six may have missed the call.