A seemingly routine ground ball hit by Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Sucre, making his first MLB plate appearance against the Texas Rangers, turned into one of the worst calls by an umpire in recent memory.
When the two American League West rivals did battle on Friday night, Sucre hit it right to Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the second inning. From there, the outrageous development unfolded.
Moreland flung the ball to second base for the force out, but when he went to snag the turning throw from shortstop Elvis Andrus, young pitcher Justin Grimm caught it in front of Moreland's glove.
The big problem with first-base umpire Jeff Nelson calling Sucre out was that Grimm wasn't on the bag when he made the catch and failed to administer a tag on Sucre as he ran by. It was a bang-bang play originally marked as a 3-6-3 double play but later changed to a 3-6-1.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge thought Moreland pulled his foot off the bag during his stretch and didn't even realize it was Grimm who made the catch, per Doug Miller of MLB.com.
Nevertheless, the call stood, and it didn't help the hosting Mariners' cause in their 9-5 loss, which was their seventh in a row. Grimm struggled, giving up a run in each of his first three innings, and the phantom out he got was huge—he didn't give up another run.
This blunder by Nelson isn't totally inexcusable, but if he merely waited a little longer just to see whether Moreland or Grimm had the ball, this scenario would have been averted.
Fans were audibly upset at the call, jeering Nelson for his mistake. This latest defeat drops the Mariners to 20-28 in the 2013 season as the franchise looks to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.