Houston Astros star Yordan Álvarez is already one of the most feared sluggers in the league. Now imagine how scary he would be if it took four strikes to get him out.
That nightmare turned into reality for Boston Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill, who had an MLB rulebook-breaking faceoff with Álvarez to open the third inning on Wednesday.
The plate appearance began with Hill missing low on a curveball for ball 1. He followed that up with another curveball that hit the strike zone for strike 1, then Álvarez fouled off another curve for strike 2. Hill then got tricky, throwing his first fastball. of the inning sidearm and just hitting the high inside corner.
Home plate umpire and crew chief Jim Wolf called the pitch a strike, a third strike. But not an out. Instead, Álvarez was allowed to keep hitting and, fortunately for Hill, grounded out to first base on the next pitch.
Not only did the umpire, pitcher, batter and catcher appear to not notice strike 3 had just been called, the Astros broadcast did as well.
The groundout ultimately mattered little in the game, as the Astros were already leading 4-0 and ended up winning 6-0 to improve their record to 68-38. And yet, it’s not every day you see an umpire, especially one with two decades of experience like Wolf, fail at counting to three.
The impossible sequence of events even landed on MLB.com’s Gameday.
The groundout was part of an 0-for-4 day for Álvarez, who is still one of MLB’s top hitters with a .303/.409/.655 line and 30 home runs this season. Meanwhile, Hill’s four earned runs allowed in three innings bumped his ERA up to 4.52.