In a blink, O's miss a homer, deal with a strange check swing, give up a grand slam - and lose -

Dan Connolly

In a blink, O’s miss a homer, deal with a strange check swing, give up a grand slam — and lose

It’s crazy how games can turn on one sequence, one brief moment.

The Orioles were up 2-1 against the Detroit Tigers and their ace, Justin Verlander, in the seventh inning.

With one out and Tim Beckham, who had three hits, on first, Seth Smith hit a ball that nearly was a home run. The ball landed just at the tip of the grounds’ crew shed in right, and Smith settled for a double.

Caleb Joseph then came to the plate. With two strikes, Verlander threw a 100-mph fastball high and tight to Joseph, who started to swing before pulling back as the ball hit him on the wrist. Joseph flipped his bat around and landed on the dirt.

Instead of a foul ball, crew chief Jeff Nelson ruled from first base that in Joseph’s twirling, he swung. So, Joseph was gone on a painful strikeout.

“Apparently, on the slow-mo cam, it hit my hand and as I was continuing to turn to avoid the ball hitting me right in the teeth, the bat came through and it ricocheted off the barrel. But the hands are part of the bat when you swing with two strikes. So, the umpire deemed that I was intently trying to swing the bat. So, I was called out,” Joseph said. “It’s 101 miles an hour at your face. I mean, I’m not sure there’s a person in Baltimore or Detroit that would say, ‘I think he was truly trying to swing at it.’ Did that lose us the game? Probably not. So, it’s sort of irrelevant for me at this point.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter came rushing out of the dugout to argue, but it didn’t help. You can’t review a check swing – something that irritates Showalter since it is such a difficult call for any umpire to make.

“That’s one of the things I’ve been talking about is having a couple of reviews for check swings. It’s the one play that’s impossible for the umpires to really know for sure. Obviously, the intent isn’t to swing. You go by intent, it’s pretty easy,” Showalter said. “Jeff’s a good umpire, he’s trying to get it right. I disagree with him, but that was a split-second decision. I’d probably feel differently if I was in the other dugout.”

Verlander then got Craig Gentry to fly out, to escape any damage.


Mychal Givens entered in the eighth and had a rare rough inning. He allowed two bloop singles, a walk and a one-out grand slam to Justin Upton.

In a blink, the Orioles went from a 2-1 lead and a potential two-run homer to an eventual 5-2 loss. What seemed like a winnable game ended up being their second consecutive loss to the Tigers.

“You just never know. It’s unfortunate. I thought Seth hit that ball out, too. Two, three inches,” Joseph said. “We’ve got to come back and we got to get a good effort (Saturday) and try to even the series.”



  1. Osfan73

    August 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    First……if your trying to dodge a way inside pitch and the bat happens to go around it should be a ball plain and simple no matter. It’s pretty obvious when a batter is trying to get out the way of a pitch coming at them, especially the head area. That’s self defense. I mean what player is going to just stand there against 100 mph heat way inside for fear of the bat going ‘past home plate’ while twirling away from it???? I sure wouldn’t!

    On Givens…not worried about him at all. He’s been a very good part of a very good bullpen. He just had a hiccup and that happens in baseball and is a part of being a fallable human being. Really, this loss hurts because and will be magnified NOT because of Givens but because of June/July and the hole the Os dug themselves into during that time.

    Despite Beckham looking good with the bat again tonight the offense really missed Mancini. Hope he’s not out longterm.

    Still can salvage the split, a must do at this point and GO OS!!!

    • Dan Connolly

      August 5, 2017 at 1:07 am

      Yeah, I don’t think anyone is blaming Givens. The guy has been great.

  2. jml4724

    August 5, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Any idea if there was a reason it was not called a foul ball? What does it matter if it’s a swing or not in this instance. If hits batter during a swing understand it’s a strike and would have been out, but hands part of bat so hit bat and foul. Know can’t review check swing but are foul or hit by pitch not reviewable also?

    • Dan Connolly

      August 5, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      The sense we received was that the play wasn’t reviewable. Not sure if we’re taking all components or not.

  3. woody

    August 5, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Wow what a tough beat. In a 5 minute spell after cruising towards victory a 2-run homer missed by 6 inches, the umpires failing to give us the HBP to load the bases, then consecutive soft flyballs dropping in on Givens. The record books will tell you we lost by 3, but this should certainly have been a W.

    Well done KG & pitching staff for sorting your stuff out – excellent again. Now lets see if Miley can carry the batton…

    • Dan Connolly

      August 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Really quick momentum change. And I’ve seen my share.

  4. garyintheloo

    August 5, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    There is nothing in the rule book that allows for a “checked swing”. It is like the schoolyard “tie goes to the runner” which is also not in the rule book. Still after what Joseph went through last year it was a ball (pun intended).


    August 6, 2017 at 10:31 am

    There are some games that you are destined not to win and this was one of them. The third strike on Joseph was just a fluke play. Then, Givens had a bad night. It’s baseball.

  6. TheWalkingEd

    August 8, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Dan, if “the hands are part of the bat when you swing with two strikes”, why wasn’t it considered a foul ball?

    I seem to remember this same situation actually worked to the Orioles advantage a couple years ago. I want to say it was in a playoff game but I can’t be certain.

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