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After rising to a season-high three games over .500 with a victory on June 1, the San Diego Padres have now lost five straight games to fall to 32-34. In their 4-3 loss Thursday night to the Arizona Diamondbacks, they had a chance to tie the game in the ninth with a runner in scoring position, but Jake Cronenworth was called out on strikes to end the game. The pitch was outside the zone. 

Here's a look, along with the Padres' broadcasters and their understandably angry reaction: 

In terms of the vertical placement, it's possible the ball clipped the top of the strike zone, but that's irrelevant because, horizontally, the ball did not get the outside corner. It was out and should've been called a ball. It was a miss by home-plate umpire Erich Bacchus. 

The Padres remain in the third and final NL Wild Card spot right now, thanks to an incredibly top-heavy NL, but let's lock in on the main point here and that's ending a game on a missed call. 

I've called for this before, but this is where the balls-strikes challenge system that they currently use up through the Triple-A level could've come in handy. In the minors, the batter would just immediately tap his head to challenge the call and then the ABS system reveals if the ball caught the zone or not. 

Regardless, that's not an option in the majors and this game ended with the Diamondbacks holding on. We don't know if the Padres would have tied the game or not, had the call been correct, and that's the issue. 

Cronenworth and his manager, Mike Shildt, were rightfully upset after the game, via San Diego Union-Tribune

"It was a ball," Cronenworth said. "I don't even know what to say. He took the bat out of my hands at the end of the game. It sucks. It comes down to his decision."


"You know, listen man, you can't end a game with a ball six inches off the plate and borderline high," manager Mike Shildt said. "I mean, listen, that's just not acceptable. We lost. I take ownership of that. Don't want to blame anybody, but that's a bad way to end the ballgame."

I'd dispute that it was a full six inches off the plate, but it was definitely a bad call and it's tough to end a game that way. 

Calling balls and strikes with the naked eye has never been tougher. Not only do pitchers throw harder than ever, but there's more movement than ever and such a variety of breaking pitches. Not only that, fans now get to see a strike zone graphic on the screen of broadcasts and can easily find plots of where the pitches went through the zone on personal devices, increasing the scrutiny on balls and strikes calls by umpires. 

It seems the next step here is the challenge system using ABS as the arbitrator. 

Until then, we're going to see plenty of these disputes.