The New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals’ four-hour and 25-minute marathon game on Sunday (the longest nine-inning game in the majors this season) probably felt even longer with Ed Hickox’s inconsistent strike zone behind home plate.
Both teams took issue with Hickox, a 32-year veteran umpire who made some egregious calls in the 12-9 Cardinals victory.
Perhaps the most consequential missed call came in the fifth inning when Yankees’ Marwin Gonzalez was up with the bases loaded and Cardinals right-hander Chris Stratton threw a 3-2 curveball that was clearly off the plate.
Gonzalez was ready to toss his bat and take his base when Hickox rung him up.
Two batters later, Aaron Judge ripped a double off the center field wall to tie the game, but had Gonzalez actually walked it would have been tied.
The next batter, Matt Carpenter, then took a 1-0 pitch that was outside and also called for a strike, which was the last straw for Yankees manager Aaron Boone as he was ejected along with pitching coach Matt Blake.
Boone made sure he got his money’s worth and explained to Hickox where the strike zone should be.
But it was not just the Yankees getting the short end of the stick. Hickox was equally bad for the Cardinals, too.
In the second inning, Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright began chirping toward home plate after he threw a breaking ball to Judge right over the plate that was called a ball.
Yadier Molina had to come out to the mound to calm Wainwright down and two pitches later Judge laced a two-RBI single to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
Hickox continued to call pitches that were clearly in the strike zone balls two batters later with Josh Donaldson at the plate, but Wainwright managed to strike him out.
The Twitter account, Umpire Auditor, marked that Hickox had missed 20 calls in only the top of the sixth inning.
In addition to the strike zone, Hickox also got a play at the plate wrong, calling Paul DeJong out, but replay was able overturn the call and get it right.
If that was not enough for Hickox, he also took a foul ball off the face in the eighth inning in what was certainly a rough day behind the plate for the veteran umpire. Fortunately, he was OK and stayed in the game.
But it was his strike zone that had fans sounding off on social media.