3-ball walk leaves questions of ‘What happened?’

On Sunday, it took four balls before Cameron Maybin got his free

ride to first base.

A day earlier, it was a little easier, at least for him. An

umpiring mistake let the San Diego center field draw a bizarre walk

on a 2-2 pitch, prompting many in baseball to wonder: Can’t anyone

here count?

The whiff on Maybin’s shortened walk Saturday night that led to

the only run of the Padres’ 1-0 win wasn’t limited to the

scoreboard operator or home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. No one in the

Seattle dugout or on the field complained that Maybin was trotting

down to first one pitch too soon.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge took it as far as calling a team

meeting Sunday morning in part to apologize for missing the wrong


”I’m the captain of this ship and something like that cannot

happen. That falls on me. I should have trusted my instincts with

what I felt it was, but I didn’t and that’s my fault,” Wedge said.

”That can’t happen. I preach to these guys about being accountable

and I sure as hell need to be accountable for that yesterday.”

Though such mistakes have occurred in the majors, they’re very

rare. Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who has played in over

2,500 games, said he’d never experienced anything like it


”Last time I saw that it was like the 4- and 5-year-olds

playing T-ball, or coach-pitch or something, where there’s one

umpire on the field and they might lose track. I’ve never heard of

that in a big league game,” Washington’s Adam LaRoche said. ”I’ve

seen it a lot of times where guys will run down to first on three

balls, but they always get called back. I’ve never seen it where it

slips by everybody.”

With one out in the fifth inning, Maybin fell behind 0-2 against

Seattle starter Doug Fister.

Maybin then fouled off a pitch before Fister missed to make the

count 1-2. Maybin fouled off another before Fister missed with a

curveball in the dirt. The count both in the stadium and on the

television broadcast showed 3-2 and the next pitch missed high with

Maybin walking to first base and no one making an argument to


The at-bat was reviewed on video by official scorer Dan Peterson

and it was determined the high fastball should have only been ball

three. Maybin later scored the only run when Alberto Gonzalez’s

one-hopper deep in the hole glanced off the glove of shortstop

Brendan Ryan and into left field for a hit.

”I watched it after the game. I don’t even remember fouling off

one of the pitches,” Maybin said Sunday morning.

”But I guarantee you from here on out,” Maybin continued,

”somebody in the dugout will be keeping track on both sides.”

Maybin walked the first time he came to the plate Sunday.

Correctly, too.

Crew chief Tom Hallion said after Saturday’s game that Cuzzi was

using a pitch indicator and had the count at 2-2. When Maybin

headed to first with no argument and the scoreboard showing the

count already at 3-2, Cuzzi figured he just missed a pitch.

It’s customary for plate umpires to keep track of the count with

a hand-held clicker that’s part of their standard equipment. It was

clear Sunday’s home plate umpire, Bill Miller, was using one in his

left hand.

Wedge believed the same, thinking he’d just missed a pitch with

his head down as Fister works very quickly on the mound.

”You have to follow the game, which I think we do as well as

anybody. But it’s just such a rarity to the point where I’ve never

seen it before. Like I said I have to trust me gut on that one.

there is human error, but that can’t happen,” Wedge said. ”I

think we’ve definitely become too dependent on the scoreboard, I’ll

say that much.”

It was the second time recently a mistake was made on ball four.

Last weekend in Texas, there was a related mistake Nelson Cruz of

the Rangers took ball four on a 3-2 pitch. But no one seemed to

realize it was ball four, so he stayed in the box and struck out on

the next pitch.

It became a moot point in the Rangers’ 14-5 loss to the New York

Mets. But Maybin’s gift was magnified because it was the lone


Above all else, the gaffe highlighted the need to stay engaged

in what’s happening during the game, even with all the distractions

that can take place.

”Not to throw umpires under the bus, but you get to a point

where they make their calls, balls and strikes, safe or out, fair

or foul, that’s their job. Let them take care of it,” Houston

manager Brad Mills said. ”Now when you start missing some calls,

now you’ve got to start doing that (keeping up with it) and I think

that’s where all the griping and complaining comes in.”

AP Sports Writers Joseph White in Washington, Kristie Rieken in

Houston and AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta

contributed to this story.