The last inning was not exactly how catcher Kurt Suzuki wanted it to go.
A double steal attempt by the Cubs was set up Alfonso Soriano racing to third base in the top of the ninth of a 1-1 game.
Suzuki’s throw to third base hit Welington Castillo’s bat. The ball rolled into foul territory, which allowed Soriano to score the go-ahead run.
Later, a called third strike and subsequent argument with home plate umpire John Tumpane got him tossed.
Who could have thought the Nationals appeared to be on their way up 1-0 after seven innings?
In the end, the Cubs come back for the 2-1 upset.
Suzuki said he felt his throw hit Castillo’s bat.
“Yeah, it hit it,” Suzuki said. “Obviously, that is the first time I have ever done something like that, let alone saw it. It was one of those things where a freak thing happened like that.”
Suzuki said as a catcher, that play at third base with a batter in the batter’s box is a scenario he practices. Suzuki said he did clear Castillo, but his bat inadvertently got in the way of the throw.
“I cleared him,” Suzuki said. “When I work on that, I don’t work on clearing the bat. I just make sure I don’t hit the guy in the head throwing the baseball. Obviously, I wouldn’t hit him in the head with the baseball. I did my job. I threw it and it hit the bat.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Suzuki wanted nothing better than to get that run back and find a way to erase the 2-1 deficit. But with the count 2-2 versus Cubs closer Kevin Gregg, Suzuki was called out on a third strike by Tumpane. All three strikes in the at-bat were called and all were Gregg’s four-seam fastball.
Suzuki argued vehemently after the strikeout and was ejected for what he said was the first time in his career. The crowd had got on Tumpane earlier for what appeared to be a wide strike zone provided to Cubs starter Scott Feldman.
“It is tough for me to comment on stuff like that,” Suzuki said. “I can’t hit for everyone else. He was pretty good when I was hitting. You can’t really argue much about that. I just did what I did.”
Suzuki felt that he was getting a bit squeezed even from the first pitch of the at-bat. Here’s the strike zone plot for Suzuki in that plate appearance in the bottom of the ninth/
It appears that two of the three called strikes were outside of the so-called zone.
“It started with the 0-1 pitch,” Suzuki said. “I felt that pitch was off. I didn’t say much, just a little bit. It was a big part of the game. I got my emotions running. I battled the count to get back to 2-2. I put myself in a pretty good hitting situation. For something like that to happen, I felt it was a ball. You guys probably had a good view on replay. You guys probably know better than me.”
And even though Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano each allowed a run (only Storen’s was an earned run), Suzuki said it wasn’t because they were scuffling on the mound.
“They battled,” Suzuki said. “For Sori, that is my fault. I threw the ball and hit the bat. It is one of those things, it was a freak thing. Nothing he can do. He got out of the jam. It should have been no runs. Drew did good, too, bouncing ball up the middle. Tough one.”