The Houston Astros scored the winning run against the Texas Rangers on Sunday when manager A.J. Hinch successfully argued that the Rangers' Keone Kela had balked with a runner on third, even though the call hadn't originally been made on the field.
With runners on second and third and the count 1-2 on the Astros' Evan Gattis, Kela made a quick pitch to Gattis that was called a ball. After he made the pitch, Hinch came out of the dugout to point out that the pitch was illegal and should have resulted in a balk. The umpires convened and agreed, calling a balk that allowed George Springer to score from third base. Rangers manager Jeff Banister then came out to argue and was ejected from the game.
The score was 7-7 at the time with Springer scoring the eighth and eventual winning run as the Astros held on for the 8-7 victory.
The umpires ruling falls under MLB Rule 8.01, which states "pitchers may disengage the rubber after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the rubber and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire. When the pitcher disengages the rubber, he must drop his hands to his sides."
"It's clear as day what happened. It's a weird play and it caught everybody off guard, including the umpiring crew," Hinch said after the game. "It's an illegal pitch with a runner on third. And Kela does that all the time with nobody on, so I think he was so focused on the hitter he decided to do a quick pitch, which you can't do -- it's a balk. So once they convened I could overhear a little bit of the conversation and ultimately they got the game right."
Banister told reporters that his problem was "that nobody on the field originally called a balk."
"The explanation was to me that Key didn't tell anybody that he was going out of the windup. ... I've never seen a non-balk call turned over and called a balk," he said.
"My argument was that I didn't know that we could come out and get the umpires to convene to try to see what everybody came up with. It's upsetting in a sense that you can't ague against a balk," he said.
The Astros completed a four-game sweep of the Rangers with the victory.
Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.