Odd challenge starts domino effect for A's, Blue Jays
Toronto awarded run after umpires review tag, overturn force play at home
OAKLAND -- Another wrinkle was added to Major League Baseball's instant replay system following a series of bizarre events during Thursday night's game between the A's and Blue Jays.
One missed call at first base set off a chain reaction that led to confusion in both dugouts. Before it was all said and done, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged that his own player should have been called out, a call was overturned, a run scored and the A's tried to play under protest.
All in all it was a strange night at O.co Coliseum and the play in question likely will be debated in the coming days as MLB looks to perfect the system it implemented prior to the 2014 seaon.
"Replay's a new dimension to this game and there's going to be quirks and funny plays like this that happen," crew chief umpire Bill Miller told a pool reporter. "Unfortunately it happened to us."
The incident happened in the top of the second inning with the bases loaded and one out. Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Gose hit a sharp grounder to first base. Nate Freiman fielded the ball cleanly and attempted to make a tag on baserunner Munenori Kawasaki before throwing home.
First-base umpire Vic Carapazza ruled that Kawasaki avoided the tag and immediately made the safe sign. That meant the force play at home was still in order and catcher Stephen Vogt recorded the out when he caught the ball while stepping on the plate.
Gibbons then came out of his dugout and took the unorthodox approach of suggesting that Kawasaki should have been ruled out. He challenged, and when the play went to a review, it was determined that Kawasaki had been tagged.
That prompted the umpires to overturn the ruling on the field. Kawasaki was called out and as a result, Edwin Encarnacion was ruled safe at home because the force play was no longer in effect.
"When replay came back, our hands are tied," Miller said. "There's only so much we can do. We can't put runners back ... We have to go with what happened on the field, and what happened on the field was the guy tagged home plate but he did not tag the runner. Unfortunately that was in direct relation to the call on the field at first base, and that's something we just can't explain."
When the Blue Jays were credited with a run, A's manager Bob Melvin tried to play the game under protest. His argument was that the rules were not being correctly interpreted and that it should be up to the umpire's discretion whether Encarnacion was called safe at home.
In this particular case, that would have resulted in Encarnacion being called out because he was still at least several feet from home plate when the throw arrived. The call didn't end up having an impact in the game because Oakland went on to win 4-1, but afterwards Melvin was still scratching his head.
"That's probably the first time that's happened in that fashion," Melvin said. "My understanding now is you can't protest anything that has to do with replay, so I don't know that it was a legitimate protest or not. And you're going to come up with plays like that over the course of the season based on replay being brand new, and you're gonna find some ones that are some tweeners. They did the best they could with it."