OAKLAND -- Joakim Soria thought he was out of the inning.
With two outs in the top of the ninth and runners on second and third, the A's reliever delivered what appeared to be strike three to Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani. Unfortunately, catcher Josh Phegley couldn't hold on to Soria's curveball.
Home plate umpire James Hoye flinched, as if he was going to ring up Ohtani, but instead called it ball two.
Here's a better view. Hoye was definitely about to call it strike 3 (which it was). pic.twitter.com/L1FiXhiqlI— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) May 29, 2019
Hoye says Phegley's drop didn't affect the call.
"I just had the ball (low)," he told NBC Sports California. "Sometimes you just flinch a little bit. The timing gets fast, you speed up and you think it's there, and then it's not. That's what happened."
Two pitches later, Ohtani singled home the two go-ahead runs and the Angels ended the A's 10-game winning streak, 6-4.
"I understand he’s human and he thought it was a ball," a dejected Soria said after the game. "The only problem is that, because of the mistake, I gave up two runs and we lost the game."
Soria voiced his displeasure with Hoye's call immediately following the pitch, and then even more at the end of the inning, earning himself an ejection. Despite his frustration with the call, he still took responsibility for allowing the game-winning runs.
"Bottom line, I have to execute the next pitch," Soria said. "I didn't do it. He hit a base hit and two runs scored. You have to move on. You cannot stay in that pitch. Just move on. That is my mistake too."
Phegley also shouldered the blame for not holding on to the pitch.
"I have to catch the ball to give us a better chance," he said. "It was borderline, could've gone either way, but I give us a better chance if I catch it."
A's manager Bob Melvin disagreed with that premise, however, suggesting a catcher should not affect a ball or strike call.
"The rhetoric always, to me, is they're up against a machine, what they're getting graded on," he said. "You get a lot of catchers that are pulling pitches nowadays and that's not supposed to affect them. They're calling it when it crosses the plate. ... It is what it is. Tough way to lose."
Fortunately, the loss only ends the A's winning streak, not their season. Oakland has still put itself in a good position with its recent surge, now 29-26 and tied for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.
Oddly enough, the winning streak will not officially be 10 games. Based on the result of the A's suspended game against the Tigers, which will not be completed until September, the streak will either be 11 or seven games.
Oakland will go for the series victory against Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon before welcoming the division-leading Houston Astros for a three-game series beginning Friday.