Dodgers beat Astros thanks to controversial sham call on Ryne Stanek; Houston pitcher, Dusty Baker ejected

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By Webdesk

The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Houston Astros on Saturday night with an 8-7 final (box score). The go-ahead run, and what turned out to be the winning run, controversially scored during the bottom of the eighth inning, when second base umpire Junior Valentine called Astros righthander Ryne Stanek for a balk. That call plated Jonny DeLuca.

View the relevant incident:

The mock rule is often maligned for its opaque nature – it often boils down to whether the umpires believe the pitcher has misled the runner.

Here the trigger resembled the movement of Stanek’s right knee. Don’t take our word for it either. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts weighed in after the game and told reporters (including Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic) the following: “He got it right. Obviously in a game like that we don’t want that to be the deciding point in that situation, but they made the call right. Stanek might have been trying to watch the pitch clock, a sort of attempt to dismount and call timeout.

“His cleat was stuck, but it was a sham, according to the letter of the law.”

Below is a list of just 13 points that often result in balks, according to Baseball Reference.

  1. Start his throwing motion without completing the throw;
  2. Fakes a throw to first base;
  3. While standing on the rubber, throws to a base without stepping directly to that base;
  4. While standing on the rubber, throws a throw to an unoccupied base or pretends, unless a runner runs to that base;
  5. makes an illegal throw, including a quick throw;
  6. Throws while not looking at the batter;
  7. Makes any part of his throwing motion without touching the throwing rubber;
  8. Slows down the game unnecessarily;
  9. Stands on or astride the throwing rubber without the ball;
  10. after assuming the wind-up or hold position, removes one hand from the ball, except while making a pitch or throw to a base;
  11. drops the ball while standing on the throwing rubber;
  12. Throws while the catcher is not in the catcher’s box;
  13. Stand from the set position without coming to a complete stop.

Unsurprisingly, Stanek wasn’t too happy about the call. After knocking out Michael Busch to end the frame, Stanek yelled at Valentine. He was subsequently ejected, escalating the situation. Note again:

Stanek was sent away. Director Dusty Baker, who said after the game that he had not received an explanation for the false signalwas also thrown.

Stanek, 31, entered Saturday’s game with a 4.50 ERA (95 ERA+) and a 1.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first 26 appearances this season.

It should be noted that Major League Baseball informed teams in February that umpires would properly enforce the 2023 sham rule.

The Astros and Dodgers wrap up their three-game set on Sunday, a rematch of the 2017 World Series. The Astros will try to avoid the sweep after losing Friday’s opener thanks to a strong performance by Dodgers rookie right-hander Emmet Sheehan.

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