Not a lot went right for the Los Angeles Dodgers during their 9-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. Most notably, they came up short in their first attempt to clinch the NL West title. But there was one play in particular where everything started on the right track, but quickly took a wrong turn and completely changed the complexion of the game.
It came in the top of the sixth inning with Los Angeles trailing 4-2. They had battled back from a 400 deficit and were within one Adrian Gonzalez swing as he stepped in with Michael Young on first base and one out. Gonzalez didn't homer, but he did drive a ball between left fielder Adam Eaton and center fielder A.J. Pollock for extra bases. Young, who's obviously lost a couple steps over the years, raced around third and was waved home by third base coach Tim Wallach. But young was cut down on an excellent relay throw by shortstop Chris Owings.
Or was he?
Upon further review, it seemed pretty clear that Young's left hand hit the plate before catcher Miguel Montero applied the tag. However, first base umpire Jim Joyce, who rotated home when Joe West covered third base, saw it differently and ruled Young out. This brought Don Mattingly out of the dugout almost immediately to confront Joyce, but the most angry Dodger on the field was Gonzalez.
Though both were a long way away from the call, Gonzalez started giving second base umpire Andy Fletcher an earful. Then he uttered some magic words about Fletcher's colleagues that led to his third career ejection.
"I said if you guys are going to switch [stations during the play], hustle so you'll be in position to make the call, and that's when he threw me out," Gonzalez said. "We all know he got it wrong because he's not in position to make the call. I could see it from second base."
In Gonzalez's defense, you can clearly see Joyce run in front of the camera as it focuses on Young making the turn around third. West is also seen slowly moving up the line toward third. That's way too late in the play for a rotation. You can also see Joyce have to quickly change his position as the throw arrives to get a better view. Had the rotation happened quicker, he would have been in much better closer to the play, and in a better position to adjust his position.
This missed call is 100% on the umpires, and it's unfortunate that they compounded the mistake by ejecting Gonzalez. It was a game-changing sequence of events. The situation goes from a 4-3 score with the tying run in scoring position, back to a 4-2 game with two outs and the Dodgers clean up batter in the showers.
Sure, the Dodgers had other chances offensively and fell short. They also received a terrible start from Stephen Fife and an ugly five-run eighth inning from reliever Ronald Belisario. Again, not a lot went right. But that one call could have righted a lot of wrongs in a hurry.