Much has been made about the need for expanded instant replay in Major League Baseball, but as long as there are human umpires on the field, there will always be a certain level of human error.
With the Rangers clinging to a 5-4 lead and a runner on first base, Zobrist worked a full count before home plate umpire Marty Foster rung him up looking on a called third strike.
The called strike was nowhere near the zone, as low and outside would be putting it mildly, but see for yourself (via ESPN).
Obviously, the Rays were none too happy about the way the game ended, as Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon and Zobrist both pleaded their case to Foster after the game, to no avail.
One of the few managers in the game with an active Twitter account, Maddon took to Twitter after the game, with this short and to the point tweet:
That can't happen in a major league game.
— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) April 9, 2013
Marc Topkin, the Rays' beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times, didn't mince words following the final out, calling the pitch a "horribly called strike 3" in one of his many postgame tweets.
#Rays lose on a horribly called strike 3 on a shocked Zobrist. Maddon has been arguing vehemently after the fact as field cleared
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 9, 2013
Our own MLB lead writer Adam Wells wondered if perhaps the umpire had some important postgame plans, which is one possible explanation for the strike call.
— Adam Wells (@adamwells1985) April 9, 2013
Finally, Rays' star third baseman Evan Longoria recognized that human error is part of the game, but acknowledged that did little to take away from the loss.
To error is human...still doesn't take any of the sting away. #Rays2013
— Evan Longoria (@Evan3Longoria) April 9, 2013
For what it's worth, Foster admitted his mistake after the game and completely understood why Maddon was so upset (h/t Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News), even calling the way he handled things "very professional."
I saw the pitch and, of course I don’t have the chance to do it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike. Joe was not violent. Joe was very professional. He was frustrated and I understand. He acted probably the best he can under that situation.
More instant replay will no doubt help eliminate more of the human error but, ultimately, it cannot fix everything, and that's just part of the game.