Fieldin Culbreth Suspended 2 Games for Allowing Illegal Pitching Change

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IMay 10, 2013

June 17, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; MLB umpire Fieldin Culbreth during a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

MLB admitted on Friday that the umpiring crew botched a call in Thursday night's Los Angeles Angels-Houston Astros game, but more news from the league office came later in the afternoon. This time in the form of a suspension and fine for the crew responsible for the mishap. 

Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth, the man in charge of the decision that allowed Astros manager Bo Porter to change pitchers twice before the original reliever threw a single pitch, has been suspended for two games (h/t Jon Heyman of CBS Sports):

MLB on Twitter also confirmed the news:

In the seventh inning on Thursday night, Porter summoned Wesley Wright to the mound in relief. Angels manager Mike Scioscia countered with pinch hitter Luis Jimenez.

Porter then immediately changed pitchers again, without a single pitch thrown by Wright, this time bringing Hector Ambriz to the mound. 

After a lengthy meeting between the managers and umpiring crew, and the ire of both broadcasting teams toward what looked to be an easy decision, Culbreth ruled that Ambriz could in fact face Jimenez and that no rule had been broken. 

According to the MLB rulebook, here is the call that Culbreth and crew missed on Thursday night:

If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief's judgement, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher. 

The crew clearly missed the call, and the uproar has forced the league to take swift action. 

While the outrage over the incident follows a tough week for MLB fans in the wake of Angel Hernandez and company's missed home run call Wednesday in the A's and Indians matchup, the decision by Porter to insert Ambriz in the first place is one that has some people raising eyebrows. Porter publicly apologized to Culbreth and his crew for making the move on Friday (h/t Mark Berman):

Culbreth first started umpiring in 1993 and has worked his way up the umpiring ladder to the position of crew chief, umpiring two World Series and an All-Star Game along the way. 

Despite the botched call, Los Angeles managed to hang on and beat Houston, 6-5—an outcome that helped kill some of the firestorm from the two-pitcher switch on Thursday night.