In Sunday’s series finale in Atlanta, Braves center fielder B.J. Upton drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the fourth inning against Reds starter Johnny Cueto. After striking out Freddie Freeman, Cueto tried to pick off Upton at first base before throwing his first pitch to Justin Upton. It was a close play, but first base umpire Greg Gibson ruled Upton safe. Reds manager Bryan Price jogged out of the dugout and conversed with Gibson before asking for a review.
Slow-motion replays clearly showed first baseman Joey Votto’s glove on top of Upton’s hand before getting back to the first base bag. But after reviewing the play for several minutes, the umpires upheld their ruling that Upton was safe. Price came back out of the dugout. He was warned that if he continued to pursue the matter, that he would be ejected. Price continued walking back out onto the field and was promptly thrown out.
Price wasn’t angry, didn’t raise his voice or show up the umpires. One simply isn’t allowed to continue arguing once a decision has been made after replay review, and that’s why Price was ejected.
You can watch how everything transpired here:
This incident showed the imperfections of Major League Baseball’s implementation of replay review. First, the umpires had the necessary technology and still got the call wrong. Second, their incorrect ruling left the Reds without any challenges for the rest of the game. If it’s the sixth inning, it’s not a huge deal, but this was the first inning — plenty of time for the umpires to make another questionable call. Third, Price was ejected for correctly wanting to hear exactly why the umpires ruled Upton safe. Had Price been belligerent, his ejection would have been justified, but I’m sure he was as curious as the rest of us watching at home.
Thankfully for the Reds, Upton didn’t come around to score. The game remained in a scoreless tie until Freddie Freeman delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.