Umpire's brutal Jack Suwinski strike call swings Pirates-Mets showdown

Jul 6, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton (17) gets ejected from the game by homeplate umpire John Tumpane (74) after a seventh-inning call on batter Jack Suwinski (65) against the New York Mets at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 6, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton (17) gets ejected from the game by homeplate umpire John Tumpane (74) after a seventh-inning call on batter Jack Suwinski (65) against the New York Mets at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
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After slugging seven home runs and defeating the Mets 14-2 in Game 1 of a weekend set, the Pirates looked to build momentum and stack a few wins before the All-Star break. Unfortunately, they were unable to overcome unfavorable circumstances, partially due to a moment that was entirely out of their control.

Bailey Falter got the start for the Pirates, but only lasted two innings after getting injured in the third frame. He left the bases loaded for Dennis Santana, who gave up a three-run double after retiring two batters. Oneil Cruz responded with a two-run homer that ended up in the Allegheny River. The Mets scored another two runs, giving them a 5-2 lead, but in the seventh inning, the Pirates loaded the bases, looking to do damage and climb back into the contest.

Fransisco Lindor made a nice play to stop a Ke'Bryan Hayes line drive from scoring runs, which led to two outs and the bases juiced for a pinch-hitting Jack Suwinski. He took a ball on the first pitch, but on the second pitch, a ball low and out of the zone was called a strike, setting an unfortunate tone. Two balls later, Suwinski was set up at 3-1, and eyed a pitch that came in clearly low and away, even further off the dish than than pitch two. Somehow, some way, it was called a strike, putting Suwinski into a full count he didn't deserve. Suwinski called time, allowing Pirates manager Derek Shelton the chance to sprint angrily out of the dugout. Unsurprisingly, the Pittsburgh skipper was ejected after arguing the call. Suwinski swung and missed at the next pitch, leaving the bases loaded without a run crossing the plate.

Why was the Jack Suwinski at-bat so crucial for the Pirates in the game vs. the Mets?

If the 3-1 pitch is called ball four, the Pirates score a run, making it a 5-3 game in the bottom of the seventh with Nick Gonzales at the plate, who has been great at driving in runs this season. This killed all of the Pirates' momentum in this game, causing their offense to go silent and eventually lose the game 5-2.

Although this game did not decide whether or not the Pirates would be playing postseason baseball, it was a big game that could've helped them in the long run. There are still two games remaining in this series, but if the Pirates want to make a splash at the MLB Trade Deadline or gain ground in the tight Wild Card race, then they need to at least win this series against the Mets. They could have been in great position to do so in Saturday's game, but a blown call in the seventh inning prevented the Pirates from securing what they needed.