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The last thing they need is an assist from the umpire to the opposition. But that's exactly what happened late in Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Phillies, prompting outcry from infielder Miguel Rojas.
With two outs and two men on in the bottom of the ninth inning, Marlins outfielder Bryan De La Cruz faced a chance to cut into Philadelphia's four-run lead while facing reliever Jose Alvarado. The first offering was a 96-mph fastball that crossed the plate well below the strike zone — closer to De La Cruz's ankles than his knees.
De La Cruz took the pitch that should have obviously been called ball one. Instead, umpire Ron Kulpa rung him up for a strike and an 0-1 count. Rojas made his feelings known by chirping and gesturing at Kulpa from the dugout as De La Cruz did his best to laugh off the bad call.
This ump is ready for the All-Star break pic.twitter.com/E7cHTXqpiV
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) July 17, 2022
De La Cruz hit Alvarado's next offering into a fielder's choice to end the inning and the game.
Is it fair for a Marlins team that plated one run over the course of 27 innings to blame Kulpa for the outcome? Of course not. Is it fair for them to be mad over an absurd strike call in a high-leverage situation? Absolutely. Rojas was still mad after the game.
Jomboy Media suggested on social media that Kulpa was ready for the All-Star break when he made the bad call. Rojas concurred with a takedown of Kulpa on Instagram.
"This guy was trying to start his all star break since the first inning," Rojas wrote. "Gotta be more profesional (sic) than that. But who cares is just another at bat in the 9th inning."
The Marlins enter the break in fourth place in the NL East (43-48) with an offense that ranks 24th in MLB in runs scored. Rojas isn't helping much while slashing .239/.287/.353 with 21 RBI in 81 games played. It seems that the break couldn't come soon enough for Kulpa or the Marlins.