Ump show hits Marlins-Mets when ump calls 3 straight balks on pitcher in 1 inning
Miami Marlins pitcher Richard Bleier went seven seasons in his MLB career before committing his first balk. The wait for his second, and third, balk was more than a little shorter.
A game between the Miami Marlins and New York Mets on Tuesday abruptly devolved into an ump show when first base umpire John Tumpane called not one, not two, but three balks on Bleier in a single at-bat during the eighth inning.
With the Marlins up 6-3, Bleier allowed a two-out single to Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil, bringing slugger Pete Alonso up to bat. Alonso is one of the last hitters you want to face when having to worry about something else, but that’s what happened when Tumpane stepped in to rule that Bleier hadn’t come properly set before throwing his first pitch.
Bleier questioned the first balk call, but became visibly baffled when Tumpane hit him with the same call two pitches later. He argued his case with Tumpane before teammate Lewin Díaz stepped in to end the confrontation, at which point Marlins manager Don Mattingly arrived at the mound for a quick conference.
Balks are among the umpire calls that are illegal for players and managers to argue, so ending the debate was probably the right move for the Marlins.
Unfortunately, Tumpane wasn’t quite done, as then called another balk on Bleier for again not coming properly set, scoring McNeil from first with no stolen bases or balls in play. Mattingly took the field again and was promptly ejected.
Bleier stayed in and finally ended the inning with a groundout from Alonso, but was ejected after the inning was over. The incident cut the Marlins lead down to two runs, though they held on in the ninth for the 6-4 win.
Per ESPN Stats & InfoBleier’s three balks ties the MLB record for most in a single inning. The last time a baseball game saw so many in an inning involved Jim Gott of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1988.
Bleier entered Tuesday with a career 3.05 ERA in 295.1 innings. He had not committed a single balk until Tuesday, but will exit Tuesday as the MLB leader in balks this season. File that under “things you don’t see at the ball park every day.”