Red Sox's Nathan Eovaldi Thought Crucial Pitch vs. Jason Castro in 9th Was a Strike

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 20, 2021

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 19: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning of Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 19, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Boston Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi said he thought his 1-2 pitch to Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro should have been called a strike, which would have ended the top of the ninth inning with the score tied at two.

Instead, it was called a ball by home plate plate umpire Laz Diaz, and Castro went on to deliver an RBI single that sparked the Astros' seven-run ninth as part of a 9-2 win in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night.

"I thought it was a strike, but again, I'm in the moment. I'm trying to make my pitches," Eovaldi said, per ESPN's Joon Lee. "I'm attacking the zone."


Before the go-ahead base hit, this was the 1-2 pitch to Castro. <a href="https://t.co/3PVLW8FFnt">pic.twitter.com/3PVLW8FFnt</a>

While Boston fans flocked to social media with pitch-tracking data that showed the pitch was a strike and the overhead replay confirmed the ball caught the plate, a curveball in that spot is notoriously difficult to call for an umpire.

Lee noted data from ESPN Stats & Information estimated the chance that curveball is called a strike, despite being one by the textbook definition, is just 23 percent.

The missed call capped a lackluster night behind the plate for Diaz, who erred on 23 ball-strike calls, a new single-game high for any umpire in the 2021 MLB playoffs, per Lee. The errors were evenly spread out, with 12 coming while the Red Sox were pitching and 11 with the Astros manning the mound, but none were more important than the one that kept Castro's at-bat alive.

Houston, which tied the game with a Jose Altuve home run in the eighth, had seven straight runners reach base starting with the Castro single in the ninth to pull away late in Game 4. The ALCS is now tied 2-2.

"Where that pitch started, I didn't think it was one I could pull the trigger on," Castro said. "It was a ball, then I was able to move on to the next pitch."

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he didn't want to get thrown out of the game for arguing the call, but noted "we thought that pitch was a strike."

Nick Coit @NCoitABC6

Alex Cora on Eovaldi's 1-2 pitch to Castro in the 9th: "A lot of people thought that was a strike."<br><br>Goes on to say: "If it's a strike, it changes the whole thing. But I think we had chances early on...we didn't do enough offensively." <a href="https://twitter.com/ABC6?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ABC6</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RedSox?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RedSox</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DirtyWater?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DirtyWater</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Postseason?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Postseason</a> <a href="https://t.co/VIDMR6C7kX">pic.twitter.com/VIDMR6C7kX</a>

The ALCS resumes Wednesday with Game 5 at Fenway Park as the Red Sox send Chris Sale to the mound to face off with the Astros' Framber Valdez. It's a pitching rematch from Game 1, which saw Houston score a 5-4 win after both starters lasted just 2.2 innings.

First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.