Angel Hernandez’s umpiring didn’t get any better Tuesday night — at least not as far as one New York Yankees player was concerned.
Starter CC Sabathia blasted Hernandez after New York’s 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, saying unprompted that the veteran umpire was “terrible” behind the plate in the Yankees’ season-ending defeat in the Bronx.
“He’s absolutely terrible,” Sabathia told reporters after giving up three runs and five hits in five innings, walking two and striking out one. “He was terrible behind the plate today. He was terrible at first base. It’s amazing how he’s getting jobs umpiring in these playoff games.”
Many had that same question after Game 3 on Monday, when Hernandez had four plays reviewed at first base in the first four innings, three of which were overturned. New York lost that game 16-1.
How Hernandez would fare behind the plate Tuesday night was a talking point entering Game 4.
Sabathia got into some trouble early, walking Xander Bogaerts to load the bases in the first inning before escaping the jam. He wasn’t as lucky in the third, giving up three runs and three hits as Boston took the lead for good. Sabathia’s night ended after that. Of the 59 pitches he threw, 35 were strikes.
Asked if Hernandez was the reason the Yankees lost, Sabathia added: “Not at all. But he shouldn’t be around these playoff games.”
“He’s always bad,” Sabathia said. “He’s a bad umpire.”
When asked if there should be a mechanism for umpires to be removed from a series if they have a game as poor as Hernandez had Monday, Sabathia said: “Yeah, that’s what we do. We have a bad night, we don’t get to play. I don’t understand why he’s doing playoff games.”
Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, meanwhile, was far more effective, giving up only one run and four hits in five innings, striking out one with no walks, while throwing 48 of 65 pitches for strikes.
Asked after Boston’s win about Hernandez’s strike zone — and Sabathia’s critique of it — Porcello was pointed in his response.
“Throw the ball over the plate, CC,” Porcello said. “I thought Angel Hernandez called a good game. You gotta get the ball over the white part of the plate and then you get the strikes called.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Sabathia had one pitch called a ball Tuesday that had a better than 50 percent chance of being called a strike — and that was the first pitch to Bogaerts with two outs in the top of the first inning, which had a 71.3 percent chance of being called the other way.
Porcello also had one pitch called a ball that had a better than 50 percent chance of being called a strike — and that was a 1-2 pitch to Aaron Hicks with two outs in the fifth inning that had a 70.5 percent chance, according to ESPN Stats & Info data.
The Cuban-born Hernandez is currently embroiled in a racial discrimination lawsuit against Major League Baseball, stating that he has been passed over for promotion to crew chief and for postseason assignments. Just last week, U.S. District Court judge Michael R. Barrett ruled in favor of MLB to move the case to New York City instead of southern Ohio, where Hernandez’s lawyer initially filed the suit.
Since Hernandez filed his suit in 2017, he was selected for the 2017 All-Star Game as well as postseason duty in 2017 and now 2018. His suit claims he had been passed over for assignment because of a feud with Joe Torre, who is MLB’s chief baseball officer.