In the Red Sox’ 9-7 loss to the last place Toronto Blue Jays, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia put the team in a bad position in the third inning. With the bases loaded and down 1-0, Saltalamacchia attempted to pick off Jose Bautista from first base. The replay confirms that his elbow struck the mask of umpire Clint Fagan while cocking back to throw.
The errant throw then trickled into right field, allowing two runs to score as Bautista advanced to third base and eventually scored.
MLB rule 5.09 clearly states: “The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out, when a fair ball touches a runner or an umpire on fair territory before it touches an infielder including the pitcher, or touches an umpire before it has passed an infielder other than the pitcher.”
The problem was that Saltalamacchia, who has been a catcher his entire career, didn’t know this rule and thus Boston was unable to protest it. In between innings, manager John Farrell spoke with Fagan who told him that Saltalamacchia had hit his mask on the follow through.
Replays confirm that Fagan’s version of events were untrue. Rather, this is yet another example of a MLB umpire on a power trip. Umpires have too much pride to ever admit they are wrong.
Saltalamacchia admits it was his fault for not knowing the rule: “If I had to do it all over again, I definitely would have made a stink about it, and got us at least a try at it.”
This play alone did not cost Boston the game. The Red Sox scored in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, before a three-run third inning gave them a 7-6 lead. The damage from the error had been erased, but the Red Sox had no answer for Edwin Encarnacion, as he hit his second home run of the game to put Toronto up for good in the bottom of the seventh. The Blue Jays tacked on another run in the eighth to account for the 9-7 final score.
The two-run margin could have been avoided had Saltalamacchia known the rule. He believes Bautista would have been out: “He was getting off pretty good. He didn’t start heading back until I was ready to throw it so I think we probably had a good shot at him.”
He very well may have, and the three runs scored that inning could have been avoided. Whether or not the Red Sox still would’ve won is unknown. What is certain however, is that Saltalamacchia won’t be forgetting rule 5.09 any time soon.
Do you think this play cost Boston the game? Feel free to share you comments to keep the conversation going.
Aidan Kearney also writes for his own blog aidanfromworcester.com. Follow him on Twitter @aidanfromworc