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And you thought there was no way to find more slop in that Dodgers 7-5 loss: Joe Torre says umpires blundered in George Sherrill warm-ups

July 21, 2010 |  6:31 am
Wondering how that Bizarro world Dodgers-Giants game Tuesday could be mucked up any further?

Have no fear, there’s always a way ...

After the Dodgers 7-5 loss to the Giants, manager Joe Torre claimed the umpires had messed up by not allowing reliever George Sherrill an unlimited number of warm-up throws.

Rules are rules, unless you don’t know them. Or how to interpret them.

Sherrill was summoned into the game after acting manager Don Mattingly -- Torre had been ejected -- paid a visit to the mound in the top of the ninth with the bases loaded, one out and Andres Torres due up.

"I really just went out to let the infield know we were going to play back," Mattingly said. "Torres could run. And the corners were basically pretty much going home.

"After I did that, I turned to walk away and James [Loney] said something, and I kind of turned around. I didn’t realize I was even off the dirt, but obviously I was.’’

That would be a no-no. Leave the dirt around the mound and return to it, and that constitutes two visits. A second visit to one pitcher in an inning, and that pitcher must be removed from the game.

Which meant closer Jonathan Broxton’s night was over.

"We’re not playing good, and it cost us a chance to win the game," Mattingly said. "Obviously when you have Brox in the game -- the bases loaded, but you feel you can get out of that.’’

Instead, Sherrill was quickly summoned from the bullpen. Mattingly said he asked crew chief Tim McClelland if, as in replacing an injured pitcher, his reliever would get as much time as needed to get loose.

"I asked McCelland, 'Can he warm up?' And he said, 'Yeah, I won’t do that to him. I won’t take a chance on a guy getting hurt,' " Mattingly said. At that point, Mattingly said, he was talking to pitching coach Rick Honeycutt "and not really realizing how many throws" Sherrill was getting.

Sherrill also thought he would be allowed as many warm-ups as he needed. Until he learned otherwise from home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson.

"After seven he said, 'One more,' and stood behind the plate and called for Torres," Sherrill said. "And that was that."

Until Torres drove a Sherrill offering into the left-center gap that turned a 5-4 Dodgers’ lead into a 6-5 Giants advantage and ultimately a 7-5 victory.

"The biggest issue to me, and I just found this out, the umpire behind the plate only allowed Sherrill eight warm-ups," Torre said, "and he was supposed to get as many as he needed."

Sherrill said, normally, bullpen included, he would normally throw about 25 pitches to get ready. Sherrill said he had thrown two in the bullpen.

Surprise, the rule is only slightly less confusing. Apparently, the number of warm-up throws in that situation can be a judgment call by the umpire.

Also, MLB Rule 8.06 makes it sound like what should have happened Tuesday was Mattingly should have been ejected, Broxton should have pitched to Torres and then been replaced:

"In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a base runner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game. The manager should be notified that his pitcher will be removed from the game after he pitches to one hitter, so he can have a substitute pitcher warmed up.

"The substitute pitcher will be allowed eight preparatory pitches or more if in the umpire’s judgment circumstances justify."

Going by that, eight were technically OK, though the umpires should have been clear in their initial instructions. And Mattingly said when he turned to return to the mound, he heard Johnson yelling, "No, no, no. You can’t go back." So he had been warned.

Of course, the umpires acted on none of this initially. If Giants manager Bruce Bochy had not protested, the umpires were going to let Mattingly’s goof just slip by.

The muck was everywhere.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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