Lance Lynn wasn’t the happiest of MLB pitchers Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, and it wasn’t entirely about the two home runs he surrendered over five innings in the Texas Rangers’ 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees.
The umpires were playing tricks with the baseballs.
Lynn and manager Chris Woodward became miffed at plate umpire Will Little after he repeatedly made Lynn throw out the balls he was using. Balls are often removed after they hit the dirt, but not after flyballs or line drives.
Little was changing them out after every batted ball.
His explanation, including that it was directive from crew chief Joe West, didn’t hold much water with Lynn or Woodward.
Lynn was more concerned about finding a rhythm and pace of play. At one point Lynn told Little that the Rangers had a plane to catch.
“I was told that was what Joe West wanted,” Lynn said. “They want the pace of play to be much quicker, but they’re slowing it down. I’m just trying to pitch and find a rhythm, but, unfortunately, he wasn’t going to allow that.
“I asked him if it was in the rule book, and he told me no. Some people do what they want. Will told me that Joe wanted all the balls hit on the ground [out] and then, all of a sudden, we’re throwing flyballs out, too.”
Lynn also told Little that “it’s our game,” meaning players control the tempo.
“He told me, ‘We’re all playing,’” Lynn said. “The last I saw, he wasn’t playing anything.
“The whole thing the commissioner tells us it the pace of game. That was my version of telling him, ‘You’re causing the game to be slow.’”
Woodward was equally confused by the varying explanations. Woodward was told by Little that if a ball wasn’t hit off the barrel of the bat, it would be thrown out.
Neither Woodward nor Lynn had ever experienced that level of ball replacement, and Woodward was planning to seek more explanation from MLB.
That West was involved at least helps it make a little more sense.
“They kept changing the ball on him, and he didn’t want to change the ball,” Woodward said. “I’d never witnessed changing a flyball. I think it was just for this crew. I don’t think it’s something every crew does. It frustrated Lance.”
Lynn didn’t blame the ball exchanges for his performance. He regretted the pitches Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres turned into home runs.
Nevertheless, it was an issue.