Texas Rangers vs Philadelphia Phillies

Arlington, Texas — Referees never want to make themselves a story. If no one notices they’re there, they’re probably doing a good job. But on Saturday afternoon, on-field referee CB Bucknor made himself the story of the Phillies’ 16-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.

In the second half, up 3-2, Rangers kicker Nathan Ivaldi threw a 97-mile-per-hour four-seam fastball to Nick Castellanos. It was far from the area, but Bucknor called it a hit. In the top of the third inning, again, with a count of 3-2, Ivaldi threw a high jumper to Brandon Marsh. It was far from the area, but again, Bucknor called it a hit.

In the fourth inning, Ivaldi threw a four-seam fastball inside Marsh. Bucknor called it a third strike, but this time the stakes were higher. The call ended the inning, stranding runners at second and third base. If Bucknor had called the outfield a ball, the bases would have loaded for Trea Turner.

Ivaldi laughed to himself as he walked up from the mound. Marsh had a few choice words for Bucknor. There were no words of praise.

according to codifyBucknor missed 351 ball and strike calls last season. He made mistakes on Saturday that hurt the Rangers as well, though it’s hard to say how much Bucknor affected the outcome of the game.

Phillies catcher Zach Wheeler was unable to get out of the fifth inning due to an erroneous four-ball call on at-bat Adulis García. The pitch Bucknor called for the ball landed on the bottom edge of the strike zone. Junior Marty, in his Phillies debut, came after Wheeler with one runner and one out, and allowed a leadoff lead-out before hitting off Robbie Grossman. On his next bunt, he gave up a three-run home run to Mitch Garver to give the Rangers a 7-3 lead.

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If Bucknor hadn’t made that error in García’s fifth inning bat, Martín would have had two batters behind him and his strikeout would have ended the inning. Or maybe Marty didn’t have to rest Wheeler in the fifth inning at all.

It’s a crazy exercise. But Bucknor made enough mistakes on Saturday to make one wonder.

Things just kept falling apart from there. Garver hit his second home run of the day, on a three-run hit by Ceranthoni Dominguez, in the seventh inning to give the Rangers a 10-3 lead. Domínguez allowed a single and then hit the batter to put runners on first and second, and Marcos Semin reached base on a player’s choice to load the bases. Dominguez was unable to sign off and was replaced by Andrew Pilati.

Pelatti allowed three more Rangers runs (all credited to Domínguez) on a sacrifice fly, groundout, and groundout. The Rangers hit another three in the bottom of the eighth, off Josh Harrison, who entered the game after reliever Craig Kimbrell loaded the bases. Putting a player on the field, two games a season no less, is never a good sign.

Like Nola, Wheeler doesn’t get too deep

After only 3 scores from Aaron Nola on Opening Day, the Phillies needed a length from Wheeler. They didn’t get it. Wheeler struggled with his drive early against the Rangers, allowing a home run to Semin on his second pitch of the game, and a triple after that to score another run in the first inning.

He had more trouble in the third inning, allowing a double, single, and sack fly to score a third run. A fielding error by Turner during the next offense that was stopped on the Rangers fourth drive.

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Wheeler appeared to get into a groove in the fourth, hitting the side, but any momentum he had built came to an abrupt halt when Bucknor accidentally called that fifth inning.

Manager Rob Thompson had to rely on the bullpen early in his first two games of the season, which could make things difficult in games three, four and five. Bailey Walther, turned junior, will start Game 3, and reliever Matt Strahm, who fell out of the Padres’ rotation in 2019 but is still bulking up, will start Game 5.

Bohm highlight

One of the only bright spots was the catch Alec Baum made at third base in the second. With one out and one out, Semien stole a potential RBI double down the third base line. Boom dove to his right, extended his arm, and grabbed Simien’s line for the second of the half.

Good day on the billboard for the hall

Darrick Hall went 2-for-3. He hit a single off Eovaldi in the first inning and a double to right field off Eovaldi in the fourth inning. Hall was one of four Phillies to have a multi-hit game.

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