In the top of the sixth inning of today’s series finale in Baltimore, Rays right fielder Matt Joyce blasted a 3-2 fastball down the right field line, initially ruled a double by the umpires. Watching it live, it seemed to go foul, but when reviewed in slow motion, it was clear that the ball caromed off a metal pole just above the yellow line atop the fence — a home run. Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out to argue the ruling, and shortly thereafter, Rays manager Joe Maddon came out to argue his case as well.
The wrench: if it is ruled a double, the umpires cannot use replay review. Thus, Showalter was arguing that it was foul, and Maddon was arguing that it was a home run rather than a double. The umpires conferred, then left the field to look at the tape. When they emerged, Joyce — still standing on second — was allowed to circle the bases to complete his newly-awarded home run, his eighth of the season. Oddly enough, if Showalter had not come out to dispute the original ruling of a double, Maddon would not have argued for the home run.
Joyce’s home run gave the Rays a 3-1 lead, which they would hold on to for the win, completing the weekend sweep of the Orioles.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.