Umpire’s embarrassing botched call stings harder after Braves’ tight loss to Cardinals

MLB umpires haven't been the most popular in 2024 and they added more fuel to the fire as a botched call ruined Atlanta's chance for a win in St. Louis.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves continued their road trip on Monday evening as they began a series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Things looked promising early on for Spencer Schwellenbach who made his fifth start of the 2024 season. However, things unraveled a bit for him in the third inning.

Schwellenbach had three strikeouts through the first two innings and allowed his first baserunner in the third inning. He got two outs in the inning but on a 1-1 count and a runner on second, Alec Burleson doubled in the first run of the game for St. Louis.

The Cards would rattle off three straight singles after that and take a 3-0 lead against the Braves. However, they would score a fourth run that proved to be the difference maker as Atlanta lost the game 4-3.

Spencer had Dylan Carlson in an 0-2 count but home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez decided that strike three was actually a ball. It was basically in the same location as strike two but a little bit higher in the zone. After missing the call, Schwelly was visibly upset by the botched call as he knew that was the end of the inning.

Instead, the Cardinals scored a fourth run when they attempted a double steal on that pitch. Sean Murphy threw down to second which in hindsight wasn't the best decision but even still, that should have been a strikeout to end the inning.

Schwellenbach has every right to be upset by that especially coming from the minor leagues where that pitch would have been challenged and correctly overturned from a ball to a strike. An awful missed call like that is unacceptable. Umpires are human and make mistakes but there comes a point where it has to stop. How is a perfectly executed pitch clearly in the strike zone missed like that?

Spencer continued to be a nice surprise for the Braves as he allowed four runs on eight hits including no walks and six strikeouts through five innings. He was frustrated by his inability to escape the third inning but he moved on and gave Atlanta two more scoreless innings to keep things close for the offense.

After the game, he stated, “One bad inning, one pitch away to three or four guys there with two outs. I just couldn't seem to make the pitch. But other than that inning, I thought I did well and executed pitches. But at the end of the day, I got to get better with throwing balls with two strikes and kind of missing at-bats that way instead of allowing them to stay in the at-bat and put something in play.”

He isn't wrong about getting better at executing pitches with two strikes in an at-bat. However, the missed third-strike call was out of his control and not his fault. It would be understandable if it were a borderline call that didn't go his way but that wasn't the case.

Austin Riley homered in the fifth inning to open the scoring for Atlanta but added insult to injury came as the Braves rallied in the ninth inning against St. Louis closer Ryan Helsley, who is almost perfect in save opportunities. However, he was wild on Monday night and issued a lead-off walk to Marcell Ozuna. Jarred Kelenic followed with a single and things looked promising.

Riley struck out for the first out but Sean Murphy drew a walk to load the bases. Ramón Laureano then singled to score the second run of the game. Travis d'Arnaud then checked in as a pinch hitter and hit a sacrifice fly to score what should have been the game-tying third run. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case and Zack Short did his best but struck out to end the game.

It was encouraging to see the offense not just disappear at the end of the game. They have seemingly figured things out and that's the best takeaway from Monday's loss. Atlanta didn't just lie down and accept a loss but fought until the end and almost completed a comeback.

Atlanta did lose Orlando Arcia after the sixth inning which is why Zack Short was batting at the end of the game. Arcia was removed as a precaution for dizziness as it was an extremely hot night in St. Louis. Snit announced after the game that he thought he was a little dehydrated and would probably get the day off on Tuesday.

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