Cameron Maybin looked up, saw a full count on the scoreboard and figured like everyone else in the ballpark that he should be headed to first base.
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Problem was, Maybin was trotting down to first after just three balls from Doug Fister, and no one picked up on the mistake.
”I thought it was a full count, like everybody else in the park. Turned out to be a big play,” Maybin said. ”It was a crazy play. I’ve never been a part of something like that. It worked out in our advantage, so we’ll take it.”
Maybin walked after just three balls were thrown by Fister and came around to score the only run of the game on Alberto Gonzalez’s single, sending the San Diego Padres past the Seattle Mariners 1-0 on Saturday night.
With one out in the fifth, Maybin walked when a pitch was called high by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. A video review of the at-bat by official scorer Dan Peterson confirmed the count should have been 3-2 when Maybin walked.
No argument was made by anyone on the field and the stadium scoreboard showed a three-ball count before Fister (3-9) delivered the pitch.
After the game, the umpiring crew huddled, reviewed the tape and agreed Maybin should not have walked. Crew chief Tom Hallion said Cuzzi’s hand indicator had the count at 2-2, but he noted the stadium scoreboard read 3-2 before Fister’s pitch missed high.
”My plate umpire thought his count was wrong. The scoreboard had 3-2 and he thought he was wrong because when Maybin took off for first, nobody said anything,” Hallion said. ”The catcher didn’t react, the dugout didn’t react so he thought he had the wrong count.
”Do we feel bad? Absolutely. We count the pitches and it was just one of those things that gets away with you with the scoreboard having the 3-2 count up there and then nothing being said by anybody, he thought he had the wrong count.”
The missed count became an issue when Maybin scored on Gonzalez’s hard one-hopper that skipped off shortstop Brendan Ryan’s glove and into left field, and Seattle failed to mount any sort of offense against spot starter Cory Luebke.
”At the end of the day it’s easy to sit there and point fingers at people but we’ve got to score runs,” Seattle catcher Josh Bard said.
Luebke (2-2) allowed two hits in six innings, and Chad Qualls, Mike Adams and Heath Bell each got three outs to complete the two-hitter. Bell earned his 24th save in 25 chances.
But all the attention was on Maybin’s strange at-bat and how the mistake with the count went unnoticed on the field.
Maybin fell behind 0-2, 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.
”You have an at-bat full of pitches, you see pitches, foul off a couple,” Maybin said. ”Sometimes you get lost so you look up there – that’s what those big numbers that say ball, strike are there for. So I looked up there and saw three balls, two strikes so on that last pitch I was assuming that was, ‘take your base.”’
Hallion said sometimes when the count gets lost in a glut of pitches, the home plate umpire will double check with the catcher where the count should be.
”It happens a lot of times in the game you look down and it says ‘2-2’ and a lot of times what you’ll do is ‘Josh, what do you got?’ just trying to make sure you’re not wrong or something is wrong,” Hallion said. ”Unfortunately we didn’t do this in this case and that’s where we stand with it. It’s one of those things that you wish didn’t happen.”
Maybin moved to second on Anthony Rizzo’s groundout and raced home when Gonzalez’s smash got into left field.
Seattle manger Eric Wedge said he learned after the fact it was only the third ball and thought he simply missed a pitch. Fister was unaware of the situation as well.
”Ultimately, it’s our job to watch the game. It was a mistake. A 1-0 ballgame, it means a great deal,” Wedge said. ”But it still doesn’t change the fact that we’ve still got to score a run to win.”
In just his second start of the season, Luebke gave up two hits by Greg Halman and nothing else. Halman doubled in the second, but was stranded. He singled leading off the fifth, but was thrown out trying to steal second base.
Seattle got a break in the seventh when Jason Bartlett committed his 13th error of the season on Ryan’s grounder up the middle. Ryan then stole second and moved to third when Franklin Gutierrez flew out to the warning track in right field.
Qualls got Justin Smoak to wave at strike three low and away, then got a popout from Halman to end the threat.
NOTES: Seattle kept C Miguel Olivo (hamstring) and 2B Dustin Ackley (bruised rib) out of the lineup. Both said they could play and may be back in the lineup Sunday. … Padres 2B Orlando Hudson is likely to miss a few days after fouling a pitch off his left knee on Friday night. Manager Bud Black said they believe just a few days off is all Hudson will need. … Qualls made the 500th appearance of his major league career. All have come in relief.