This is one of the worst sequences I've seen.
Umpire Adam Hamari blew three consecutive strike calls to ring up Wilmer Flores in a high leverage situation. The pitches missed outside by 3.59 inches, 2.27 inches, and 3.23 inches.@SFGiants v @Padres https://t.co/iuYCrU10XW pic.twitter.com/bJVRE1SW4E
— Umpire Auditor (@UmpireAuditor) May 1, 2021
Wilmer Flores is fairly unflappable — can’t remember him once flapping — so when Gabe Kapler noticed the slugger looking back at the home-plate umpire in disbelief, it was not ordinary annoyance.
Flores saw three pitches from old friend Mark Melancon in Friday night’s ninth inning at Petco Park. The first missed by 3.59 inches off the outside of the plate, according to @UmpireAuditor, and Flores’ head jerked back upon learning the call. The second was 2.27 inches off, the third 3.34 inches. Flores saw three balls, never swung and returned to the dugout having struck out, the second out of the inning in a 3-2 loss.
“He very rarely reacts with anything but calm and poise. So to see [his reaction], that kind of raised an eyebrow in the dugout. Like, what’s going on, why is he upset,” Kapler said Saturday, before game two of the series in San Diego.
What Kapler also called “interesting” in the at-bat was Flores did not complain much after strikes two and three. The Giants had gotten used to the calls from Adam Hamari.
“I think that was more telling of his level of frustration than anything else,” the manager said. “I think he felt pretty out of control, as we all did in the dugout. There was no shortage of frustration after the game.
“I appreciate how difficult it is calling balls and strikes. It’s a real challenge. And so I don’t take that lightly, and I don’t ever lose empathy for people who are having to do a really tough job. At the same time, I think there was a high level of frustration through the game and in particular after that last at-bat.”
Kapler said there “are talks” within the Giants about whether to reach out to Major League Baseball and express their displeasure.
Hamari is known for having one of the bigger strike zones among umpires. According to Swish Analytics, hitters have walked in 7.5 percent of plate appearances during his games. Among current umps with at least 20 games worked, that is third least.
Brandon Crawford (calf contusion) is out of the starting lineup Saturday, but it’s possible he would have been regardless against San Diego lefty Blake Snell.
After Yu Darvish drilled the shortstop Friday, Kapler said Crawford is still sore. He was not sure if Crawford would be available off their bench Saturday.
Mauricio Dubon was getting the start at shortstop. The full lineup:
1. Austin Slater, CF
2. Darin Ruf, LF
3. Buster Posey, C
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Brandon Belt, 1B
6. Wilmer Flores, 2B
7. Mauricio Dubon, SS
8. Mike Tauchman, RF
9. Anthony DeSclafani, P
Donovan Solano (moderate calf strain) played catch out to 205 feet Friday and is hitting off a tee in San Francisco “without any issues,” Kapler said.
He did not have a timeline on the Silver Slugger second baseman, who has been out since April 21. Calf strains can take a while, and it likely will be a few more weeks for Solano.
At the moment at least, the Giants are prioritizing Buster Posey‘s health and recovery over the notion of getting his bat into the lineup more often by playing him at first.
“While it’s very tempting to get him into the lineup as potentially a first baseman on a day game after a night game, it’s more important to ensure that he gets adequate recovery,” Kapler said, “because this performance is ideal.”
This performance: a .361/.418/.705 slashline with six homers in 67 April plate appearances.