Friday, March 7, 2014
ST. LOUIS — Before the call, there were other interesting facets to the St. Louis Cardinals’ 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series, played Saturday night at Busch Stadium.
Why did Jarrod Saltalamacchia throw to third?
What was Brandon Workman doing with a bat in his hand?
And the, of course, there are a lot of questions about THE CALL.
Let’s go back to the top of eighth inning. Saltalamacchia ended the inning with a ground-out. The Red Sox are going to bring Brandon Workman in to pitch. Manager John Farrell is thinking of getting multiple inning from Workman - but the pitcher is up second in the ninth inning.
“In hindsight, probably should have double-switched after Salty made the final out the previous inning, with Workman coming in the game,” Farrell said.
Farrell could have subbed Workman into Saltalamacchia’s spot, and subbed in catcher David Ross in the pitcher’s spot.
Then Ross would have batted in the ninth, instead of watching Workman go down on three pitches from closer Trevor Rosenthal,
Onto the bottom of the ninth: After a single by Yadier Molina (off Workman) and a double by hobbling pinch-hitter Allen Craig (off Koji Uehara), left-handed Jon Jay was coming to bat, with one out.
Jay ground to Dustin Pedroia, who threw Molina out at home. That made two outs, with the weak-hitting Pete Kazma due up. But then Saltalmacchia tried to throw out Craig at third.
The ball got by Will Middlebrooks and there is an instant flashback to Game 2 when Craig Breslow threw wildly to third base, allowing the winning run to score.
Now Saltalamacchia’s throw which Middlebrooks couldn’t reach and fell over trying.
“It’s a bang-bang play,” Farrell said. “As it turns out, we have forced a couple of throws to third base that have proven costly.”
It looked like the Red Sox were still going to get out of it when the throw home beat Craig. But there was no out sign from umpire Dana DeMuth who, instead pointed to third base umpire Jim Joyce, and then to home plate and signaled safe.
After Craig had slid into third, he got up and tripped over Middlebrooks. He got up again and raced home - all under the watch of Joyce.
“He tripped over Middlebrooks right there,” Joyce said, “and immediately and instinctually I called obstruction.”
Farrell came out to argue the call.
“Tough way to have a game end, particularly of this significance,” Farrell said. “I don’t know how Will gets out of the way when he’s lying on the ground.
“I guess by the letter of the rule you could say its obstruction. Like I said, that’s a tough pill to swallow.”
But if the call wasn’t made, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny would have charged out of the dugout.
“The immediate thought was to come out and argue,” Matheny said. “We saw the tangle there, and its just a matter of how they interpreted it.”
But Middlebrooks was laying on the ground. “There’s nowhere for me to go,” he said.
But that doesn’t matter, according to Joe Torre, now a Major League Baseball executive.
“Intentional or not intentional, he just has to clear a path,” Torre said.
“I know sometimes it’s unfair because he’s laying on the ground, but that’s the way the rule is.”
Rules are rules.
“It’s a crying shame,” Boston pitcher Jake Peavy said.
And it’s on to Game 4. Boston gives the ball to Clay Buchholz.
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
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