For the second time in nine days, the Seattle Mariners and an umpiring crew simultaneously forgot how to count to four.
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Angels designated hitter Bobby Abreu was allowed to take first base on a three-ball count in the third inning of Los Angeles’ 4-2 victory over the Mariners on Sunday.
Incredibly, the same thing happened to Seattle on July 2 against San Diego.
”That’s happened twice,” Seattle ace Felix Hernandez said. ”Only to us.”
Home plate umpire Gerry Davis apparently lost track of Hernandez’s count on Abreu, and the Seattle dugout didn’t protest when Abreu dropped his bat on a 3-1 count and trotted to first base. Abreu also thought he had taken four balls, only learning he got it wrong when he returned to the dugout.
Last weekend, San Diego’s Cameron Maybin took first on a 2-2 pitch and eventually scored the only run in the fifth inning of the Mariners’ 1-0 loss to the Padres. Seattle manager Eric Wedge called a team meeting after that fiasco to apologize for missing the count.
Wedge claimed he wasn’t even upset about Abreu’s early walk — and not just because it didn’t hurt the Mariners. Hernandez quickly retired Vernon Wells and Howie Kendrick, leaving Abreu stranded at first base and Torii Hunter at second.
”I was OK with that,” Wedge said. ”I figured it worked against us last time, let it work for us this time. … I was fine with (Abreu) not being up there 3-1 with the next two guys coming. I felt good about Felix facing those next two guys. I was hoping for a double play, but we got a strikeout and a popup.”
Abreu is a left-handed hitter against the right-handed Hernandez, while Wells and Kendrick are both right-handed batters. Abreu began the game with a .306 career average against Hernandez, while Wells (.263) and Kendrick (.212) were much worse.
Wells and Kendrick both went hitless in three at-bats against Hernandez.
Abreu’s walk was the 1,400th of his career, third-most among active players. The veteran slugger can’t remember ever taking his base on three balls in any of his previous 1,399 free passes.
”I thought it was ball four, so I guess I got confused, too,” Abreu said. ”It’s funny, and it’s weird at the same time. You’ve got the professional umpires that know everything, and it still happened.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia and his coaches realized what happened almost immediately, but they didn’t say a word.
”It happens,” Scioscia said with a grin. ”It’s not the first time it happened.”
Both teams agreed the Mariners couldn’t blame their fifth straight loss on the gaffe.
Baseball has been on a minor run of counting mistakes recently. Two weeks ago in Texas, Nelson Cruz took ball four on a 3-2 pitch, but didn’t take his base, striking out on the next pitch.