There’s missing a strike here and there, and then there’s having a total off night behind home plate.
That was the case on Tuesday in Game 4 of the ALCS between the Red Sox and Astros. Home-plate umpire Laz Diaz missed 21 calls in the matchup, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and ESPN Stats and Info — the most of any umpire in the postseason.
On a night with 309 total pitches, that meant Diaz missed 6.8 percent of the balls and strikes at home plate:
Laz Diaz is now up to 23 missed ball-strike calls tonight.
Worth noting: 12 of them were on pitches thrown by Red Sox pitchers, 11 were on pitches thrown by Astros pitchers.
But the one everyone — at least everyone in Boston — is going to remember is the Nathan Eovaldi curve.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 20, 2021
Not all of them came in inconsequential moments, either. One was a borderline pitch by Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi in the top of the ninth: a curveball that hit the top of the zone against Astros catcher Jason Castro. The pitch looked like it might have hit the zone for strike three, which would have ended the inning. Instead, Diaz called it a ball to make it a 2-2 count. Castro singled to give Houston a 3-2 lead after that, and the floodgates opened from there.
“I thought it was a strike, but again, I’m in the moment, I’m trying to make my pitches, I’m attacking the zone,” Eovaldi said after the game.
That wasn’t the only call that fired up the Boston side. Earlier in the game, another pitch on J.D. Martinez was called a strike when it would have been a walk to put runners on first and second with only one away. This one, however, was less close, according to Baseball Savant.
In case you weren’t sure, that pitch is No. 7. Yeah, not so close.
The call got both Martinez and Red Sox manager Alex Cora heated. After the game, Cora said Martinez is not usually one to argue over the strike zone and that, when he responded to the missed call, Cora knew he had to get out of the dugout to stand up for his player.
“The way he reacted, I had to jump right away. I don’t want him to get thrown out and we disagreed with that one,” Cora said. “I know it’s early in the game, but it’s first and second, one out, so it is what it is.”
Cora was asked whether he thought the calling of balls and strikes impacted the outcome of the game, but he said simply he needed to look at the video to see how it went.
Diaz doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation. According to UmpScorecards, he ranks in the seventh percentile for accuracy and 12th percentile for consistency. Here’s an overview of his balls and strike calls tonight, courtesy of Baseball Savant.
Unlike Cora, many didn’t wait to take aim at the umpire for the outcome of the game.
Laz Diaz can’t be behind the plate in the postseason… He’s a great dude, but brutal back there.
— Will Middlebrooks (@middlebrooks) October 20, 2021
It takes a special umpire to piss off both managers at once. But that’s the kind of guy Laz Diaz is.
— Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) October 20, 2021
Laz Diaz is trying to start a fight with a manager after making an awful strike call because MLB can’t be bothered to keep its worst umpires out of its most important games
— Jon Tayler, Top 0.1% On OnlyJons (@JATayler) October 20, 2021