St. Louis Cardinals starter John Lackey continued his dominance at Busch Stadium as he put up seven shutout innings to help the Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 on Friday night.
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Lackey, who entered the night 4-1 with 2.04 ERA at Busch Stadium since he was traded to the Cardinals last July, improved upon those numbers and struck out nine batters.
The outing was not without some frustration with home plate umpire Mike Winters. After a pair of questionable calls, both Yadier Molina and Lackey visibly questioned the strike zone.
It appeared that Lackey told Winters that the pitch was “right down the middle”–which was backed up by online pitch tracking services such as Pitch Trax. Afterwards, the Cardinals pitcher didn’t want to elaborate much on the topic.
“I don’t want to get into that, you guys all saw it,” said Lackey, but later pointed out he would’ve liked 10 strikeouts instead of the 9 he recorded.
The Dodgers had their own issues with Winters and as a result, manager Don Mattingly was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the top of the 7th inning. Catcher A.J. Ellis also had an early exit during the bottom half of that same inning.
“I had a rough game, Mike had a rough game,” began Ellis in his explanation of what happened. “Just an accumulation and it reached a boiling point. Some things were said that pushed me over the edge and kind of invoked a reaction. It’s never good to leave a team on the field, but I felt like I had to stand up for my pitchers and stand up for my teammates at that point.”
“I think Mike told him that he didn’t like something about presenting the ball properly,” stated Mattingly. “I don’t know, I just–a little frustrated. I don’t think you want the umpires telling us, your catcher how he should catch it.”
Pressed for what Winter’s said, Ellis initially declined but wound up sharing more of their conversation after learning of Mattingly’s comments.
“There’s people on blogs and websites that can critique my framing, but I’m not going to take it from an umpire,” he offered. “It’s not their job to do that. Their job is to call balls and strikes based on what comes through the strike zone.”
“He said the presentation was poor,” Ellis continued. “I said the presentation doesn’t matter–I said it matters if it comes through the zone or not. He said your presentation was poor, he just repeated himself. So, that’s what did it. That along with the accumulation of a tough day and a lot of pitches that didn’t go our way on both sides–and I think at that point he had heard enough from the Dodgers. Don had been ejected as well and he wasn’t going to further debate balls and strikes with our team anymore.”
It was the first ejection of Ellis’ career, who emphasized his pride in having good relationships with umpires. For Mattingly, it was his third this season and 18th as a manager.
A.J. Ellis postgame comments:
–Ed Easley made his Major League debut in the 7th inning and reached base safely on an error by third baseman Jacob Turner.
–Randal Grichuk batted cleanup for the first time in his ML career and had an RBI double in the 3rd inning, which extends his hitting streak to five games (.467, 7-15).
–Jhonny Peralta had a pair of doubles and extended his hitting streak to seven games (.393, 11-28).
–Matt Carpenter stole his first base of the season. His last swipe came in August of last season.
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports