It took 11 minutes to sort out the oddest play we've seen so far during MLB's new video replay era. In a strange turn of events Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays argued that their own base runner was out. And that led to the Oakland Athletics deciding to play the rest of the game under protest.
Lots to unravel here, so let us explain:
The Blue Jays had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the second inning. Anthony Gose grounded a ball to A's first baseman Nate Freiman, who quickly tagged Munenori Kawasaki as he ran to second base. Freiman then fired the ball home and catcher Stephen Vogt stepped on home plate, thinking there was a force play.
This is where things get complicated: The first-base umpire ruled on the field that Freiman did not tag Kawasaki, thus the force play at home plate was valid. But that was the wrong call. A replay makes it rather obvious that Freiman made the tag, thus Edwin Encarnacion should have been safe at the plate because the force was off and he was never tagged.
Now you probably understand why it took 11 minutes to sort this out.
The Jays, of course, were more than willing to sacrifice their runner at first base to score a run. It was plenty prudent, but still weird. How often does a team want their runner to be out instead of safe?
The A's, meanwhile, had to be hoping that the review ruling would confirm Encarnacion would have been out if the first call were correct. Maybe the umps in New York would decide not to change the second part of the call on the field? There are provisions in the instant replay rules that allow umpires to make judgment calls like that. This is from the replay rules:
If the Replay Official overturns a call on the field, he will also use his judgment to determine where to appropriately place runners if the play had been called correctly on the field.
The umpires didn't get that fancy, though. They said Kawasaki was out and Encarnacion was safe. The run counted and the Blue Jays were ahead 1-0. That's when A's manager Bob Melvin announced he was protesting the game because the rules were misinterpreted.
As it turned out, Melvin's protest was for naught. The A's won the game 4-1, and all this replay weirdness didn't matter. But, hey, at least we all got to see something new happen on a baseball field.
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