Will Marlins painkiller Richard Bleier be the first Jewish pitcher called to stop Rosh Hashanah? I do not know. What is a cold truth going on Tuesday’s match against the MetsBleier had 572 professional baseball games over the course of 15 years – never in his seven major league seasons. He committed nine hits before facing Pete Alonso at Citi Field with two passes in the eighth inning. His career total after facing Alonso: 12.
That’s right, he won a third of his previous career totals in a live match, with all three being called by the game’s first-base referee John Tumpane. Bleier is a left-hander, so the closest jumper to his pitcher would be Tumpane. What trick did the 35-year-old man use to blatantly deceive the spanking? He is said to have yet to completely stop his pitch with the ball in his glove.
Bleier was confused and a little sad the first time it happened. He had just faced three beaters with the same movement and no hit was named. When Tumpane called a big enough balk where the microphone on the field caught it two balls later, Bleier was clearly upset. When it happened for the third time, Don Mattingly, was ready to be pushed out – as was Bleier, who was baffled because he couldn’t understand what he had done wrong while Jeff McNeil scored without the ball going off the field. After a header in the field, there were three easy shots that scored his goal from within 90 yards.
The half ended with a breakthrough from Alonso and the Marlins eventually won the game with a precise line that lit up the scoreboard after McNeil overcame the board, 6-4. Bleier became the seventh pitcher to be called into the box three times in the same inning and the first to do so since Jim Gott in 1988, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He’s the only pitcher to do it three times in the same game since 1900.
Umpiring quartets and teams bump into each other all over MLB’s circuit, so it’s hard to believe Tumpane and friends hadn’t seen Bleier throw before. And if he made the same motion facing the first three batters of the eighth inning, was Tumpane not paying attention? These were the first three MLB walks for Bleier, who’ll also represent Team Israel at next year’s World Baseball Classic.
Punishing Bleier for a unique delivery is atrocious and comical. Look at how former Mariner and Marlin Carter Capps pitches the ball, with a hop-step similar to a javelin thrower than pitcher. His foot leaves the rubber with the ball in his hand. He’s literally closer to the mound and has a better chance at a strikeout. Isn’t that an unfair advantage? And Capps committed a balk zero times in his 129 career MLB appearances. If Bleier hadn’t been called for a balk in his MLB career before Tuesday, he’s not the one that has to adjust. Tumpane needs to keep himself in check.