Daily Distractions: This is a strike now, home opener tonight, Jamie Moyer comeback?

Here’s the set-up: Two outs, two strikes, bottom of the ninth inning. Joe Nathan is pitching for the Texas Rangers with a 5-4 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. Nathan is stuck on 299 career saves. Home-plate umpire Marty Foster has a dinner bet riding on Nathan picking up number 300 tonight and his reservations are for 20 minutes after the final pitch.

OK, we made that last part up … or did we? Here’s where the pitch was relative to the strike zone (h/t MSimonESPN):

Joe Nathan strike

And here’s what the pitch looked like in real life:

Joe Nathan strike

Wait, watch that clip again.

 

Foster’s call reeked so foul of dinner-reservation theories, he second-guessed himself.

“I saw the pitch and, of course I don’t have the chance to do it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike,” Foster told a pool reporter after the game. “Joe [Maddon, the Rays' manager] was not violent. Joe was very professional. He was frustrated and I understand. He acted probably the best he can under that situation.”

Nathan didn’t disagree.

“It’s pretty safe to say we got fortunate, but I’ve seen plenty of them go the other way,” Nathan noted diplomatically. “I threw the pitch where I wanted to. He just didn’t offer at it like I wanted him to. Did I draw it up this way for my 300th? No, but I’ll take it.”

Not only did Maddon tweet about it, he still hasn’t deleted the tweet a day later.

The pitch wasn’t even framed well by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, as Jeff Sullivan points out in a very detailed FanGraphs piece.

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