The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Houston Astros by an 8-7 final (box score) on Saturday night. The go-ahead run, and what proved to be the eventual winning run, scored in controversial fashion during the bottom of the eighth inning, when second-base umpire Junior Valentine called Astros right-hander Ryne Stanek for a balk. That call plated Jonny DeLuca.
Take a look at the incident in question:
The balk rule is often maligned for its opaque nature -- it often comes down to whether the umpires feel the pitcher deceived the baserunner.
Here, the trigger appeared to the movement of Stanek's right knee. Don't take our word for it, either. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts weighed in after the game, telling reporters (including The Athletic's Fabian Ardaya) the following: "He got it right. Obviously in a game like that, don't want that to be the deciding run in that situation, but they got the call right. Stanek was trying to look at the pitch clock, maybe, kind of trying to step off and call timeout.
"His cleat got stuck, but it was a balk, by the letter of the law."
Below, you'll find a list of just 13 points that often result in balks, according to Baseball Reference.
- Starts his pitching motion without completing the pitch;
- Fakes a throw to first base;
- While standing on the rubber, throws to a base without stepping directly toward that base;
- While standing on the rubber, throws or fakes a throw to an unoccupied base, unless a runner is running toward that base;
- Makes an illegal pitch, including a quick pitch;
- Pitches while not facing the batter;
- Makes any part of his pitching motion while not touching the pitching rubber;
- Unnecessarily delays the game;
- Stands on or astride the pitching rubber without the ball;
- After assuming the windup or set position, removes one hand from the ball except in the course of making a pitch or throw to a base;
- Drops the ball while standing on the pitching rubber;
- Pitches while the catcher is not in the catcher's box;
- Pitches from the set position without coming to a complete stop.
Stanek, unsurprisingly, was none too pleased about the call. After striking out Michael Busch to end the frame, Stanek yelled at Valentine. He was then ejected, which caused him to escalate the situation. Again, observe:
Stanek was ejected. Manager Dusty Baker, who said after the game he didn't receive an explanation for the balk call, was tossed as well.
Stanek, 31, entered Saturday's contest with a 4.50 ERA (95 ERA+) and a 1.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first 26 appearances this season.
The Astros and Dodgers will wrap up their three-game set, a rematch of the 2017 World Series, on Sunday. The Astros will look to avoid the sweep, having lost Friday's opener thanks to a strong showing from Dodgers rookie right-hander Emmet Sheehan.