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Marlins pitcher becomes first in 100-plus years to balk three times in same at-bat

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Miami Marlins pitcher Richard Bleier allowed one run in one inning in a win over the New York Mets on Tuesday in Queens. Photo by U.S. Navy/Jacob Sippel
Miami Marlins pitcher Richard Bleier allowed one run in one inning in a win over the New York Mets on Tuesday in Queens. Photo by U.S. Navy/Jacob Sippel

Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Veteran pitcher Richard Bleier made history -- in an unfortunate manner -- in a Miami Marlins win over the New York Mets, becoming the only MLB player in more than 100 years to be called for three balks during one at-bat.

The rare sequence occurred in the eighth inning of the 6-4 victory Tuesday at Citi Field in Queens. Bleier allowed one hit and one run in one inning of work.

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Bleier is the only player in MLB's modern era (since 1900) to balk three times in one at-bat, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He entered the night without a single balk call in 303 previous appearances over his seven-year career.

"It's the same move I've been doing my entire career," Bleier told reporters. "I have never been called for a balk ever. The first one, which I don't think was a balk, I watched the video.

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"After that, they were clearly not balks. Words cannot describe what just happened in that inning."

Bleier entered the game in the bottom of the eighth as a replacement for fellow relief pitcher Huascar Brazoban. The Marlins led 6-3 at the time.

Bleier retired center fielder Brandon Nimmo and shortstop Francisco Lindor to start the inning. Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil then stepped up to the plate and smacked a single to second base.

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Mets slugger Pete Alonso then settled in against Bleier.

Bleier started the game with a pitch outside the strike zone. First-base umpire John Tumpane ruled that Bleier didn't come to a stop during the throw, resulting in the first balk call and allowing McNeil to advance to second base.

Bleier argued with Tumpane before he tossed another pitch outside the zone to fall behind 2-0 in the count. He then tossed another pitch right over the middle of the plate, but was called for his second balk. McNeil moved on to third after that pitch.

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Marlins manager Don Mattingly walked out to the mound to talk to Bleier after the second balk call, but allowed him to stay in the game. Bleier then threw another pitch for a strike low in the zone. Tumpane followed the offering with another balk call.

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McNeil scored as a result of that call. Bleier and Mattingly both argued with the umpires and were ejected from the game.

Alonso grounded out to second base to end the inning.

"I've never seen anything like it," Mattingly said. "The guy hasn't balked in seven years and all of a sudden he has three on one hitter. It's frustrating, that's for sure. But at the end of the day, we got a win, so I'm not going to worry about it."

Alonso went 1 for 4 and drove in the only other Mets runs with a three-run homer in the fourth inning. Marlins left fielder J.J. Bleday went 2 for 4 with a two-run homer in the fifth. Marlins right fielder Brian Anderson went 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Catcher Jacob Stallings went 1 for 3 with two RBIs.

The Marlins (64-90) will battle the Mets (97-58) in the series finale at 7:10 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Queens.

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