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Arizona Diamondbacks 3, St. Louis Cardinals 4: #RobotUmpsNow

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Torey Lovullo got his first ejection as the D-backs manager tonight. It was fully justified.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 50-29. Pace: 103-59. Change on 2016: +14.

A study earlier this year came up with the professions most at risk of being replaced by robots. The top five were:

  1. Loan officers
  2. Receptionists
  3. Paralegals and legal assistants
  4. Retail sales
  5. Taxi drivers/chauffeurs

After the #UmpShow abomination which unfolded tonight at Chase Field, I fervently hope that home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn is also on the list. Because his strike-zone tonight was a travesty, a sham and a mockery of the official definition. A traveshamockery, if you will. It took three pitches for Reyburn to boot up the all-seeing eye of @DiamondbacksUmp, and receieve his first infraction. I hope that particular robot had some highly-caffeinated WD-40 to hand, because Reyburn kept him busy for the rest of the night.

Things started to bubble to a head in the bottom of the third inning, with the game still scoreless to that point. The D-backs had got consecutive hits from both Rey Fuentes and Jeff Mathis to lead things off, presumably portents of the upcoming solar eclipse. Zack Godley couldn’t get the bunt down, but a Daniel Descalso walk loaded the bases. David Peralta lined out to left for the second out, bringing up Paul Goldschmidt with the bases still loaded to face Adam Wainwright. Goldschmidt quickly got ahead to a 2-0 count. But he was then treated to the following, back-to-back pitches.

Rather than balls three and four, and a bases loaded walk to give the D-backs the lead, those were called by Reyburn as strikes one and two, and Goldschmidt subsequently struck out, swinging at yet another pitch out of the zone. Having dodged a bullet, the Cardinals then took advantage of Godley losing control in the fourth. The first five batters all reached, on two walks, two singles and a hit batter, and a two-run single from Yadier Molina then gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead. The D-backs were able to come back immediately, opening up their half of the fourth with doubles by Jake Lamb and Chris Owings, to get a run on the board.

But Brandon Drury, Rey Fuentes and Jeff Mathis struck out, with Mathis being rung up on this pitch from Wainwright:

Are you detecting a theme here? I have to say, Reyburn’s strike zone did at least seem consistently shitty, in terms of the outside corner to right handers, extending roughly into the bathrooms on the 300 level at Chase Field. But the five-sided object in the ground is not intended as a frickin’ suggestion. THAT’S THE STRIKE ZONE. If you cannot call balls and strikes in accordance with that, you shouldn’t be umpiring, least of all in the major leagues. Mathis, having Reyburn’d out, expressed his opinion on the topic, and was immediately tossed for it - often a sign the umpire knows he screwed up. Torey Lovullo came out, and lasted about as long before also being ejected.

Ron Gardenhire took over for Lovullo, and Chris Herrmann behind the dish for Mathis. Helped by Reyburn’s Oprah-like generosity - “You get a strike, and YOU get a strike - EVERYBODY gets a strike!” - the pitchers continued to dominate. Adam Wainright struck out eight batters: he had only one previous game this year with more than six K’s. That one was umpired by Angel Hernandez. Draw your own conclusions... Godley settled down after his wildness, and ended up allowing only two hits over his seven innings, while striking out seven - but was charged with three earned runs, the three walks and the hit batter proving decisive.

The bottom of the seventh started off as the bottom of the third had, with Fuentes and Mathis our catcher getting hits. This was followed by the Arizona debut of Ketel Marte, called up from Reno earlier today, but his fly-ball to right field wasn’t quite deep enough for even Fuentes to tag up. Daniel Descalso was able to get Fuentes home and make it 3-2, just legging it up the first-base line quickly enough to avoid the double-play. But the run was returned to St. Louis immediately, as Braden Shipley gave up a two-out RBI double in the eighth. He looked fairly shaky, scattering four hits over his 1.1 innings, and I’m not sure he should be seeing high-leverage situations.

In this case, that run allowed proved as crucial as the one Goldschmidt was denied in the third inning. Because the D-backs staged one of their patented late rallies. They took advantage of wildness by the Cardinals’ closer, who walked two and threw a pair of wild pitches, to make the score 4-3, and have Herrmann standing on third for David Peralta. But unlike last night, there were no ninth-inning heroics for the Freight Train, who grounded out to end the game. But this one ended virtually as it began, with the penultimate pitch being Reyburn’s SIXTEENTH flagged call of the night. And that doesn’t even include the highly-dubious hit by pitch...

Really, it’s remarkable this was as close as it was, and we’d probably have won, if we’d only had Reyburn’s seeing-eye dog calling balls and strikes, instead of him. But at least the Dodgers and Rockies both lost - the first time in over two months (since April 26th) that all three have lost on the same day. Owings and Fuentes each had two hits, Herrmann a hit and a walk, and Desclalso drew a pair of free passes, again batting leadoff.

Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Blazing Saddles: Chris Herrmann, +23.3%
Spaceballs: Chris Owings, +12.9%
Dracula - Dead and Loving it: David Peralta, -33.4%
Robin Hood - Men in Tights: Goldschmidt, -21.5%; Marte, -10.9%

A feisty GDT for obvious reasons. Present were: Anachronistic1, AzDbackfanInDc, BenSharp, BigSmarty, BobDolio, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DeadManG, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Jim McLennan, Joey Lewis, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeDavisAZ, MrMrrbi, Oscar Goldman, PaulGoldsmith, Sprankton, TinySarabia, TylerO, aldma, asteroid, catbat, craiginphoenix, edbigghead, hotclaws, onedotfive, preston.salisbury, samath, since_98, smartplays and soco. Comment of the night to Keegan:

We’ll hopefully not end up facing the Cardinals on the power-play tomorrow, in the rubber match of this series. It’s an afternoon game at Chase Field, with Patrick Corbin starting for the Diamondbacks. First pitch will be at 12:40pm. But let’s end on a happy note - with video of the Dodgers’ even uglier walk-off loss against the Angels in Anaheim.