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Umpire admits to wrong, game-ending call in Marlins-Mets game

New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto drew a bases-loaded walk to plate the winning run against the Miami Marlins on Thursday at Citi Field in Queens. File Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI
New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto drew a bases-loaded walk to plate the winning run against the Miami Marlins on Thursday at Citi Field in Queens. File Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI | License Photo

April 9 (UPI) -- The New York Mets picked up their most-recent win with a controversial, bases-loaded hit-by-pitch ruling against the Miami Marlins. Umpire Ron Kulpa admitted after the game that he made the wrong call.

Mets right fielder Michael Conforto took a slider to the elbow in the bottom of the ninth inning of the 3-2 win Thursday at Citi Field in Queens. The walk resulted in Luis Guillorme trotting home for the game-winning run.

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"The guy was hit by the pitch in the strike zone," Kulpa said in a pool report. "I should have called him out."

Conforto started the exchange in a 1-2 hole in the count against Marlins relief pitcher Anthony Bass.

Bass then tossed in an 83.9-mph slider. The pitch painted the top corner of the strike zone and Kupla started his motion to call strike three, but the umpire then changed his call and said the pitch hit Conforto's right elbow.

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Kulpa allowed Conforto to take a walk, which sent Guillorme home.

Replay of the exchange showed that Conforto stuck his elbow into the zone and made no effort to avoid the throw.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly asked umpires to get together and change the judgment call, but they refused to change the ruling. Replay supervisors can confirm if a ball hits a batter, but cannot review judgment calls -- like balls and strikes or if a batter intentionally tries to get hit by a pitch.

"He [Kulpa] knows it was a strike," Marlins manager Don Mattingly told reporters Thursday in a Zoom video conference. "He couldn't go backwards, in his mind.

"To be honest, I bet he feels awful. They don't want it to end like that, on a strike. But it was probably too late [to reverse the call]."

The Marlins would have had two outs in the frame with the bases loaded if Conforto struck out. They would have had an advantage if they recorded the third out, due to MLB rules which now allow teams to start with a runner on second base in extra innings.

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The Mets took a 1-0 lead when Dominic Smith plated Francisco Lindor on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins tied the game on a Corey Dickerson RBI double in the top of the sixth inning. Jesus Aguilar then plated Dickerson with an RBI single for a 2-1 Marlins lead.

The Marlins carried the one-run edge into the final inning. Bass entered the game for Yimi Garcia to start the bottom half of the inning.

He allowed a leadoff homer to Jeff McNeil in his first exchange of the night. Bass then forced James McCann to ground out. He allowed a single to Guillorme and a double to Brandon Nimmo in the next two at-bats.

Bass then intentionally walked Lindor to load the bases for Conforto.

"It's not the way I wanted to win the ball game," Conforto told reporters. "I wanted to go up there and put the ball in play and drive the ball somewhere. From my point of view, it was a slider and it felt like it was coming back to me. I turned. There might have been a little lift of my elbow, just out of habit or reaction.

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"It barely skimmed the edge of my elbow guard. I saw that [Kulpa] wrung me up [called a strikeout]. I think that's why you didn't see a reaction from me right away. I knew there would be some controversy.

"A win is a win. It's over, but I'd like to use the bat next time."

Conforoto also said he didn't realize his elbow was extended so far in the strike zone. He told reporters he tends to "lean over the plate" in "battle mode" game situations.

Nimmo was the only player to record multiple hits in the game. The Mets center fielder went 3 for 5 in the win.

The Mets (2-2) host the Marlins (1-6) in the second game of the series at 1:10 p.m. EDT Saturday at Citi Field. Ace pitcher Jacob deGrom will start for the Mets. Trevor Rogers is expected to start for the Marlins.

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