New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart accomplished an amazing feat during a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night. No, not that kind of amazing. This was the kind of amazing that Stewart will want to forget. As in, striking out on a 1-1 pitch amazing.
In the top of the second inning, Stewart swung and missed at a 1-1 pitch and walked back to the dugout. He never returned. He later told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch that he thought home plate umpire Jim Wolf had called the first pitch a strike, which is where the confusion arose.
“[Wolf] said something the first pitch, and I thought he called it a strike,” Stewart explained. “I assumed it was 0-1, I fouled a ball off and I swung and missed at a ball. No one said anything; the umpire didn’t say anything, so I just came on back to the dugout and put my stuff away.”
The incredible part was no one said anything — not the umpire, not Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, not O’s pitcher Wei-Yin Chen nor any of Stewart’s teammates. As Eye on Baseball pointed out, nothing in the MLB rulebook states that the umpire is required to call a hitter back in a situation like that, so I guess Stewart essentially forfeited the remainder of his at-bat. He later said it would have been “a nice little courtesy” if someone let him know.
“The good thing is, we ended up winning and it doesn’t mean anything,” Stewart added. “But I would’ve hit a home run if I’d stayed there.”
While we’d love to make Stewart feel better by saying “it happens,” it really doesn’t. Hitters have lost track of counts on plenty of occasions, but someone usually tips them off. Stewart wasn’t fortunate enough for that to happen.