OAKLAND, Calif. — Angels manager Brad Ausmus acknowledged after Tuesday’s game that he wasn’t paying attention to the at-bat, occupied by game-planning for the next inning. Outfielder Shohei Ohtani apparently wasn’t too mindful, either.
Yet after Ohtani mistakenly took ball three as ball four in the seventh inning against the A’s, so fooled that he removed most of his gear, the Angels were able to pressure umpire Brian O’Nora into a crew chief review.
The on-field argument from Ausmus and review took about three minutes. The call, of course, was not reversed.
“That’s a free review,” Ausmus said after the game. “It’s a crew chief review. … I was talking to (bench coach Josh Paul) about some stuff for the upcoming inning, and figured if it’s free and a possibility, why not take a look?”
In other words, the Angels figured out that they could force a balls and strikes review on a random count because why not? That oddity, which more than likely is more interesting than relevant to game situations, theoretically provides managers space to throw an opposing pitcher out of his rhythm or provide extra time for one of their own bullpen arms to warm up.
Again, it doesn’t matter a great deal, but it’s a strange allowance in the official MLB rules.
Ohtani didn’t seem sure of the call either, and he appeared amused at the whole delay, shrugging his shoulders in the direction of A’s catcher Josh Phegley before smirking from the batter’s box.
To be fair, it was a rather humorous situation.
Ausmus could have done a much better job covering his intentions by suggesting he had any inkling Ohtani had taken ball four. Kudos to him, though, for exposing a minute baseball loophole.
After the review, Ohtani struck out swinging on the first pitch he saw. He then missed a perfect opportunity to pretend the miss was just strike two.
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