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MLB reviewing controversial pitching change
The Angels were playing the game under protest before rallying for three runs in the eighth inning to win, 6-5. Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued with the umpires that Astros manager Bo Porter made an illegal pitching change in the seventh inning.
With runners at first and third and two outs, Porter brought in lefty Wesley Wright to face left-handed hitter J.B. Shuck. Before Wright threw a pitch, Porter subbed in the right-handed Hector Ambriz after he saw right-hander Luis Jimenez on deck to pinch-hit.
Rule 3.05 (b) says that a pitcher must face at least one hitter before he can come out of the game, unless he's injured. Wright wasn't injured, and Scioscia argued at length with the umpires before notifying them he was playing the game under protest.
"My contention was that the pitcher who came in had to face one batter," Scioscia said Thursday. "That's why I protested it, and we're happy we won."
Porter said following the game that he'd been in a meeting last year with Nationals manager Davey Johnson that laid out the rule. Porter was Washington's third-base coach at the time.
"If you have to pinch-hit for that batter, you now have the right to bring in another pitcher," Porter said. "Technically, Wesley came in to pitch to the batter that was scheduled to hit [Shuck]. But [Jiminez] pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit, which, from my understanding of the rule, you can bring in another pitcher to face the pinch-hitter."
Porter said he stopped to talk to the umpires to make sure Jimenez was officially in the game.
"Once I made sure that he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit, then I started towards the mound," Porter said. "The home-plate umpire [Adrian Johnson], he kind of stopped me. He said, 'Whoa, Bo,' and then Scioscia started yelling, '[Wright] has to face a hitter.'
"I just calmly explained to him my interpretation of the rule is, 'Yes, [Wright] has to face the hitter, as long as it's the hitter that's scheduled to hit.' The hitter that was scheduled to hit had now been pinch-hit for, which now gives me the right to bring a pitcher to face the pinch-hitter."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.