Cubs’ Maddon irked by ‘asinine’ call in crazy 9th of Cubs’ walkoff win

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If this wasn’t a pennant race heating up Wednesday, it was at least enough heat to get Joe Maddon’s blood boiling — hotter than first baseman Anthony Rizzo said he’d ever seen Maddon.

The situation took place in the bottom of the ninth after the Cubs had blown a five-run lead against the Reds but had put the first two men on in a tie game.

That’s when Ben Zobrist was hit in the left shin by a pitch trying to bunt. But after taking his base, he was sent back by first-base umpire Chris Conroy, who inexplicably ruled that Zobrist had offered at the ball as he tried to twist out of the way.

Maddon stormed from the dugout and argued so vehemently and explicitly that it took only a few seconds for him to be ejected. He’s awaiting his fine but afterward called for Major League Baseball to look at how some umpiring decisions are being made in this age of replay challenges.

“We’ve had different things happen [with adverse calls recently], and I’ve been playing really good in the sandbox, really good,” Maddon said. “But that call cannot be made under those circumstances.

“There’s no way any hitter under those circumstances, with the ball coming at his thigh, is going to bunt through it and then get hit in the thigh. That’s asinine. That almost cost us the game. … All this minutiae need to be looked at as we move this thing along because that impacted the game. That’s bases loaded, nobody out. The world rotates differently at that point.”

The Cubs won this time. Zobrist eventually tapped to the pitcher, moving the runners to second and third, and after a strikeout, a wild pitch sent the winning run home in a 7-6 victory.

On Saturday in Arizona, Zobrist was at the center of a game-ending third strike that was bad enough the umpire told Maddon the next morning he missed the call. Had Zobrist reached, the Cubs would have brought the potential tying run to the plate.

“It’s unfortunate,” Zobrist said. “What are you going to do? … I certainly wasn’t trying to bunt.”

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