I've seen the replay a dozen times, and I still can't believe the call. Last night, the Pirates participated in the longest game in team history--a 19-inning affair that lasted over six-hours--and they lost it on a blown call that has the entire baseball world buzzing today.
With one out in the bottom of the 19th inning and Braves on 1st and 3rd, Atlanta was down to using pitcher Scott Proctor to try and drive in the winning run. Proctor hit a sharp grounder to Pedro Alvarez at 3rd. Alvarez threw home in plenty of time to get Julio Lugo, who broke from 3rd base on contact. The throw clearly beat Lugo by a mile as catcher Michael Mckenry tagged Lugo on the shin or knee well before he crossed the plate.
From every angle that I saw, there is no way any umpire could have or should have called Lugo safe on that play. Homeplate umpire Jerry Meals thought differently. He called Lugo safe, and the Braves escaped with a 4-3 win. Some have said that there is a small possibility that Mckenry may have barely missed the tag there. However, even if Mckrenry missed Lugo's leg by a fraction of an inch, Meals was in no position to make a safe call there because the likely-hood of Mckenry missing that tag and Meals seeing it clearly were very low.
I watched the highlights of the disputed play on the Pirates' website, and they aired the calls of both the Pirates' and Braves announcers. Even the Braves play-by-play guys were stunned by the call. Even Lugo seemed surprised to be called safe on the play.
The real shame is that Proctor fell flat on his face right out of the batters box, and it would have been an easy inning-ending double-play.
Of course, almost lost in all of this is the Pirates continued lack of offensive production.
Mckenry hit a homerun in the 2nd inning, and it was the first homerun for the Pirates since July 16th. After Mckenry's shot, the Pirates were shut-out for the next 17-innings. It's getting to the point where even I'm starting to think it might be a good idea to bring in another bat. This 2011 Pirates' story is a great one. I'd hate to see it collapse under the weight of a dreadful offensive attack. If getting Carlos Pena from the Cubs is as easy as people are making it seem, then the Pirates should be on the phone today.
Speaking of pitching, the Pirates need Paul Maholm to pitch a gem tonight to not only preserve the over-worked bullpen, but to rid themselves of the nasty-taste last night's game left in everyone's mouth.
A few more runs and some quality umpiring wouldn't hurt, either.