After three hours and 18 minutes of baseball, apparently home plate umpire Andy Fletcher had had enough and wanted to go home. Maybe the 10 P.M. fireworks going off in the background were getting too loud for his liking.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Kosuke Fukudome, with two men on (including the game-tying run on first), battled Detroit closer Fernando Rodney to a full count and then subsequently fouled off three straight pitches.
The ninth pitch of the at-bat was ball four. I don't particularly care that Fletcher called it strike three and ended the game, giving the Tigers the win—it was ball four.
I did my best to capture a screen shot of where the pitch landed (see the photo above). From there, you can see the ball is borderline upstairs but clearly outside.
If you were able to watch the side view that CSN showed a replay of, the ball crosses the plate at the Cubs logo on Fukudome's uniform (at his chest), which is well above the normal strike zone.
I'm not trying to say that the Cubs necessarily would have won if it was called ball four, although Geovany Soto was on deck and had already homered and doubled in the game.
I'm also not trying to say that this is the only reason the Cubs lost. The Cubs wasted opportunities (including only scoring one run with the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth), and the bullpen walked in a crucial insurance run (Carlos Marmol again).
All I'm getting at is that this was a horrific call, and it came at the most crucial moment of the game.
Ted Lilly faces Armando Galarraga in the final game of the series Thursday afternoon—maybe there is a makeup call in store for the Cubs.