I’m sure its been on the minds of the Astros all day, and I’ll tell you, it’s been on mine: what if home plate ump Jeff Nelson (use his name as you see fit) had been able to differentiate between Dye’s bat, which was hit, and Dye’s arm, which was not? Here’s a few of the possible outcomes of what may have happened had that pitch been called foul:
a. Wheeler serves another one up, and Dye pops it up to the catcher. This, to me, is the most likely of the possible “what-if” outcomes. He had fouled off two already, and a third when it didn’t hit him and went into Pierzynski’s glove. Inning is over, no pitching change, no Konerko, no grand slam.
b. The next pitch is a ball, and Dye walks. Same as if he had been hit, but would Wheeler have been taken out?
c. The next pitch is a strike, and Dye is out. Again, inning over, rally dead.
d. Dye makes contact and drives in a run or two. Score would now be tied, and Qualls would still come in to relieve poor Wheeler. In this situation, would Konerko still have had that momentum to homer? AND even if he did, since it wouldn’t have been a grand slam, would it have had the same soul-crushing effect on the Astros? Could they have come back?
e. And finally, maybe the next pitch would have actually hit Dye. Who knows?