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Red Sox not about to blame Joe West’s strike zone for loss

10.13.13 at 3:04 am ET
By
David Ross

David Ross

When you have a game in which one team strikes out 17 times — coupled with a few disagreements along the way — the home plate umpire is going to come under some scrutiny.

The eyebrow-raising only increases when it’s factored in that the ump is none other than Joe West, who has separated himself as more of a lightning rod than almost any other umpire.

But after their 1-0 loss to the Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox refused to pin the blame on West.

“I don’t think the strike zone won or lost us the game – I’ll tell you that,” said Red Sox catcher David Ross.

(It should be noted, the umpiring crews for the ALCS are not solely based on grading off of the regular season’s performance, but chosen by Major League Baseball based on a variety of criteria.)

In fact, PitchFX (courtesy BrooksBaseball.net) suggests West didn’t miss many calls at all:

Strikezone1

Strike zone 2

As for any confrontations regarding West and the Red Sox players, the players suggested too much shouldn’t be read into the conversations.

For instance, Shane Victorino quickly downplayed his argument with West, taking place after Jacoby Ellsbury ended the seventh inning via a strikeout.

“I explained to him that I was talking to Jacoby,” said Victorino regarding his talk with West. “I was asking him what pitch it was. It is what it is. We had our opportunities. We had our pitches to hit and we didn’t execute. I would never take that away from a pitching staff. I don’t want to take credit away from [Detroit starter] Anibal Sanchez.

“He thought I was talking to him. After the inning I told him it wasn’t the right moment to ask Jacoby because it looked like I was talking to him. Joe was standing right behind him and I asked Jacoby what pitch it was, he told me it was a slider and that’s when Joe thought I was talking to him. It was nothing more than that.”

Sox starter Jon Lester also had an incident with West, which he explained after the Sox loss.

“I thought the pitch to Victor [Martinez] was a good pitch, the 2-2 pitch. I didn’t know where it was at,” the pitcher said. “From what I heard, he was mic’d and got the typical Joe West answer. Just wanted to get some information. He gave it to me, like I said, in his typical way.

“I mean, for me, I didn’t feel like there was many pitches in question. You’d have to ask our hitters on that side. I can’t really comment for our hitters. For me, I felt there was one, maybe two, just kind of your typical night. You’re going to have a few here or there that you felt you threw pretty well that are just off or just down or whatever. I thought he was fine.”

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