As we mentioned in the recaps this morning, there was contact and controversy in the ninth inning of last night’s Dodgers-Giants game. To set the scene: tie game, Gregor Blanco on second base. Brandon Belt at the plate. Take it away, Vin Scully:
A couple of things are going on here. One is the contact between third base coach Roberto Kelly, the other is the umpire’s attention, or arguable lack thereof, to the play. But let’s start with the rule that governs all of this:
It is interference by a batter or a runner when — . . .
(g) In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base.
I think we can all agree there was contact here. Blanco was not held by Kelly, but he was touched. The real question here was whether that contact “physically assisted” Blanco in returning to third base. I’ve watched this play a whole bunch of times and, despite my gut instinct in the recaps this morning, I tend to believe that the rules was not violated.
Blanco was slowing down when Kelly and he came into contact. He was not going so fast and was not so out of control that Kelly’s contact with him “physically assisted” him in getting back to the bag. If Kelly was three feet further back, Blanco still would’ve stopped and started back to the bag in the same place and would’ve been safe.
Maybe this is different if Kelly’s contact with Blanco truly helped Blanco apply the brakes. Maybe it’s different if, even with this contact as it was, the ball was close to third base and it might’ve been a close call as to whether Blanco would’ve been tagged out on his minor overrun. But neither of those things applied. Given that this is not a bright line, automatic “no contact” rule but, rather, a judgment call, I think Blanco was properly safe.
Not that this was perfect, of course. Because a judgment call requires the exercise of some informed judgment on the part of the umpire. And I’m not sure how third base umpire Fieldin Culbreth was exercising judgment in this case. Yes, the source of this screencap has an understandable bias, but it doesn’t change where Culbreth was looking:
To be fair, a fraction of a second before this pic, Culbreth was watching the bag (it’s clear on the video). But he was merely looking down at it to see if Blanco touched it before heading home, not watching the entire play unfold. Why he looked away and out to left field is a mystery. By the time he did that it was already clearly a single, so he did not need to signal for an out. He really had no cause other than mere curiosity and spectatorship to be looking out to left. His attention should’ve been at the bag where he may have needed to make an out call, up the line where he may have been needed to assist on a play at the plate or, in this case, at the bag to exercise some judgment with respect to interference.
So, the non-call of interference was right. But it was right despite the umpire’s view and judgment, not because of it. This, I am sure, makes no one really happy. Well, except for Giants fans because their team won the game.
And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights
Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Joe Panik hit a walkoff sacrifice fly which scored Gregor Blanco. But dudes, Blanco should’ve been called out just before that when he “stopped” at third base on Brandon Belt’s single. UPDATE: OK, I’ve re-read the rule a couple of times and watched the replay a couple of times, and my view of this now is that, despite the contact, Blanco should not have been called out because third base coach Roberto Kelly did not “physically assist” Blanco in getting back to the bag. Read the whole justification and watch the video of the play here. Anyway, this was a big cluster and people will be, quite understandably, arguing about it for a while.
Mets 3, Braves 2: The Mets will never lose again. Of this I am almost certain. That’s ten straight. Lucas Duda hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning. Wilmer Flores of all friggin’ people hit a homer and drove in another run on a single. He has three on the year, actually. As for the Braves, it’s amazing how fast a brief hot start is forgotten and the expectations everyone has for you takes hold. Personally I was spared this spectacle as I went to go see The Mountain Goats in concert last night. There wasn’t much about baseball there — a lot about wrestling — but they did play one song that all Braves fans should keep at the ready between now and the first week of October:
“It wasn’t the plan to use Tony that long but it was a gritty performance on his part”
Rich Gossage just rolled over in his grave. And you may say “hey, Craig, Gossage isn’t dead.” He wasn’t, but he was watching the post-game presser, heard Hurdle say that and immediately died, so now he is and he’s rolling over because he still can’t even. Dan Quisenberry is dead, but he’s not rolling. He got friggin’ sick of all of that rolling and this point he just lies there, disgusted at what passes for gritty these days.
Twins 3, Royals 0: Mike Pelfrey pitched seven scoreless innings to notch his first win since 2013. The Twins scored all three runs in the first inning. Which is a good argument against time machines, really. If we had them someone, somewhere would’ve zapped ahead a couple of hours to see the outcome here, they would’ve texted someone at the ballpark about it, word would’ve spread and then there’d be no one there buying beer and hot dogs and crap. And that’s the real thing about time travel no one ever talks about. Sure, we hear all about, like, going back in time and killing your enemy’s grandfather so your enemy is never born or going forward and getting all of the box scores for the next decade, coming back and growing rich on your gambling “skill,” but the economic dislocation would be the biggest impact. That and everyone losing their ambition and will to live life going forward under the delusion that we can make things happen and otherwise affect some sort of positive change on this doomed world. Time machines would sap us of this fiction. We’d all die in our beds, as unmotivated to carry on as a bunch of flops in some 19th century opium den.
White Sox 6, Indians 0: Jeff Samardzija tossed six shutout innings, the bullpen kept it up for three more and Jose Abreu homered, doubled and drove in three. That is pretty much the Platonic Ideal of a Chicago White Sox win in 2015. They have, like, animated video simulations of this playing on monitors and glossy brochures in this freely available in the lobby of the White Sox offices for everyone to see.
Cardinals 7, Nationals 5: St. Louis jumped out to a 5-0 lead, let the Nats jump back to 5-5 and then pulled away in the eighth on a Kolten Wong double and added some insurance in the ninth because the Nats just don’t have a very good bullpen. Wong’s two-run homer was part of that jumping out part earlier and he ended up 3-for-4 on the night.
Marlins 6, Phillies 1: The Fish end their five-game losing streak. The Phillies are gonna end a lot of losing streaks this year, I reckon. Five unearned runs charged to the Phillies because, woof.
Blue Jays 4, Orioles 2: Homers from Devon Travis and Justin Smoak. Travis has four homers on the year and they’re gonna take the Rookie of the Year line off the board at whatever degenerate casinos allow degenerate gamblers to bet on stuff like “who will win Rookie of the Year.” Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez walked seven guys. If you, like the Orioles here, walk seven times and lose, man, I can’t help you.
Yankees 13, Tigers 4: Six runs off David Price in the first inning ended this one before it began. Which is a shame given how cold it was — snowed here too — but the rules say you gotta play nine unless it rains. And Price sat in the dugout for all nine, even after he got pulled:
Price said he stayed in the dugout after being pulled, instead of retreating to the warmth of the Detroit clubhouse.
“You throw the ball as bad as I did and you give up more runs than you get outs, you don’t deserve to come up here,” Price said. “That’s why I stayed out there.”
Your sacrifice is bold and brave, good sir knight. Coffee is for closers, etc.
Rays 7, Red Sox 5: Tampa Bay was down 5-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth when Jake Elmore — who just got called up before the game — homered and Brandon Guyer hit a two-run, pinch-hit single in a four-run sixth inning. The Rays break a four-game losing streak. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz homered in winning efforts in a losing cause.
Reds 2, Brewers 1: Billy Hamilton came home from third on a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth, sending the Brewers to their seventh straight loss. Maybe they need to listed to that Mountain Goats song. And make sure time machines aren’t invented. As for the Reds, that’s three straight wins since Bryan Price’s F-bomb dropping rant. One or two more of these and some jerk is gonna write the “Price’s rant motivated the Reds” column. I mean, there’s a non-zero chance I’m that jerk, but that won’t make such a column any less dumb.
Rockies 5, Padres 4: Corey Dickerson had two homers, with his second one serving to tie the game in the eighth inning. Then, in the ninth, pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso smacked an RBI single for the walkoff. Both Dickerson and Nolan Arenado were out of the game on Tuesday due to various ailments. Both came back last night and came up big. Dickerson for his bombs, Arenado for some of his patented stellar defense, an RBI double and his run scoring on Descalso’s walkoff single.
Diamondbacks 8, Rangers 5: Archie Bradley walked five in the first three innings of work, including one walk with the bases loaded. That normally doesn’t bode well for your evening, but he gutted it out, lasted six innings allowing that lone runs and got the win. Four double plays by the Dbacks’ D helped, as did Chris Owings homering and hitting an RBI single.
Athletics 9, Angels 2: A pitcher’s duel until the seventh when the A’s scored five. They added three more in the eighth. As for the duel part, Sonny Gray allowed one run over seven innings, besting Jered Weaver who allowed one run in six before handing it over to the Angels bullpen to poo all over.
Mariners 3, Astros 2: Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth and put runners on the corners with one out in the ninth, both times coming away with zero runs. That’s how you lose games, folks. J.A. Happ allowed two runs in seven and a third in a much-needed strong start for the Mariners.
Brandon Belt returns to Giants’ starting lineup Sunday after battling mild right groin strain
Brandon Belt has been held out of the Giants’ starting lineup since suffering a mild right groin strain last Tuesday in Arizona, but he was available to pinch hit Saturday night in San Diego and Alex Pavolvic of CSNBayArea.com notes that he is starting at first base in Sunday’s series finale against the Padres.
Belt suffered the mild groin strain while chasing after a foul pop-up. He appeared in just 61 games last season due to a fractured thumb and concussions.
San Francisco badly needs better durability from the 26-year-old first baseman in 2015. He’s been a very effective player when healthy, boasting a .789 OPS (124 OPS+) in 421 career major league games.