UPDATE: Cuzzi will be reviewed and could face punishment from Major League Baseball, according to a report in the New York Daily News.
The ninth inning between the Mets and Giants on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco was exciting enough, but thankfully Phil Cuzzi -- who was once fired as a minor league umpire and is no stranger to controversial (read: bad) calls -- and the rest of the umpiring crew did their best to push things over the top. That included Cuzzi making a call that ended up costing the Giants a victory.
The Giants went into the home half of the ninth trailing the Mets 3-1 and with the daunting task of scoring two runs against Francisco Rodriguez in front of them. Luckily for the Giants, Rodriguez wasn't having his best day, and they had runners at second and third with one out for pinch hitter Travis Ishikawa.
Ishikawa singled to center to bring home both runners and tie the game, and then moved to third on a double by Andres Torres. Which is when things got really interesting.
Freddy Sanchez then hit a chopper to the Mets' David Wright at third, and Wright came home with the play, making a high throw to catcher Henry Blanco. It appeared that Ishikawa slid across home plate before Blanco could corral the high throw and bring his glove down to make a tag, but Cuzzi called Ishikawa out at home.
Afterward, Blanco admitted that he believed Ishikawa was safe on the play. "He was safe all the way, so I don't know why (he was called out)," Blanco told reporters. "Good for us."
In his defense, Cuzzi said that he hadn't seen the replay but thought Ishikawa's leg came off the plate. "I'll look at it, but I figure I'd eat first," Cuzzi told the New York Daily News. "He made a decent attempt to put the tag on him. That's what it looked to me, and that's why I called him out."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who argued the call with Cuzzi, wasn't buying that.
"[Cuzzi] missed it," Bochy said after the game. "It was a tough call, game over, but he thought he got him. Ishi got a great jump there, a high throw, and we all thought the game was over. Unfortunately that call went against us."
Ishikawa made sure he wouldn't be subject to a fine when talking about the play.
"Phil and I disagreed," Ishikawa said. "To be so sure of something and I guess I was wrong. I saw the replay and it was closer than I thought it was initially. I didn't think it was anywhere near close, but I still think like I had made it."
Replays from different angles showed pretty clearly that Ishikawa's foot touched home plate before Blanco ever tagged him, and the game would go on to the 10th inning before Ike Davis doubled home Jason Bay with the winning run.
Bay scored without controversy.
The call at the plate wasn't the only time Cuzzi found himself in the middle of a situation during the ninth, as he also got into a bit of an argument with Francisco Rodriguez, taking exception to Rodriguez's reaction to a couple of called pitches.
"Jerry [Manuel] came out and said, 'Hey, what are you yelling at [Rodriguez] for?' ... I was just very exaggerated in saying the pitch was outside. It's as simple as that," Cuzzi told ESPN New York.
So, really, he was making friends everywhere.