Hernandez’s laughable call came during the top of the ninth inning of a Pool 2 game between Team USA and the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Pinch hitter Erick Aybar was up with Nelson Cruz on third, one out, and the score 1-1. With the game tied and a spot in the WBC semifinals on the line, the environment was tense and every pitch counted. But Hernandez gave closer Craig Kimbrel the call on a breaking ball a foot off the plate. The pitch was so far outside that it was wide of the batter’s box chalk. Catcher J.P. Arencibia didn’t even bother to try to frame the pitch because it was so bad. Yet Hernandez called it a strike, causing Aybar to lose his mind.
The Dominican infielder composed himself and managed to line a 97 mph fastball into right field on the next pitch to score Cruz and give his team the lead. Jose Reyes drove in Aybar with a base hit, and the Dominican team won the game 3-1 to earn a spot in the WBC semifinals.
Hernandez’s absurd call predictably drew plenty of jeers from baseball fans watching the game. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy summed up the call:
I think that was the worst called strike I’ve ever seen.
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) March 15, 2013
Oakland A’s pitcher Brett Anderson had an even better line after seeing Aybar get a hit on the next pitch:
Shoulda stuck with the slider a foot and a half off the plate.
— Brett Anderson (@BrettAnderson49) March 15, 2013
Here’s a look at the call in GIF form: