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The reason for the controversy was due to several bad calls — 27 to be exact — by home plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who didn’t seem to have much of an idea of where the strike zone was, particularly outside to right-handed batters. Just take a look at this pitch chart.
These are the called strikes Blue Jays right-handed hitters have seen today. Truly unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/yK5B6H3qng
— Nick Ashbourne (@NickAshbourne) April 16, 2022
By the eighth inning, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo decided he had seen enough, and chose to voice his frustrations with Nelson after Lourdes Gurriel Jr. appeared to draw a leadoff walk but was rung up instead. Montoyo was subsequently ejected, and spoke with reporters after the game to explain his view on the entire situation.
“I’m watching the game and I feel like I had to protect my players,” Montoyo said. “That’s just what it was.”
A very animated Charlie Montoyo gets tossed for arguing this strike 3 call 🤔
What are your thoughts on the umpiring this season? pic.twitter.com/gpdhn3OgJh
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) April 16, 2022
This wasn’t the first time Nelson struggled with his strike zone early this season, as he had already made numerous questionable calls heading into this contest.
Here’s Jeff Nelson’s record through his first two games of the year BEFORE tonight’s Jays-Athletics game. Have to think his accuracy and consistency will actually drop. pic.twitter.com/szWTuiliuI
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) April 16, 2022
— Chris H (@the_manekin) April 16, 2022
While Nelson certainly didn’t help, the Blue Jays weren’t at their best in this one, either. Starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu struggled once again as he battled forearm soreness, giving up five runs through just four innings. The score was 5-2 when he left, but his teammates were able to battle back for him, tying things up at five apiece in the sixth inning. Oakland restored its lead in the ninth, as Julian Merryweather gave up the decisive two-run home run to outfielder Cristian Pache.
With the loss, the Blue Jays saw their record fall to 5-4 on the year. They will be back in action on Sunday against the Athletics in the rubber match of their three-game series. Luckily for Toronto, Nelson won't be behind the plate for that one.
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