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Servais ejected after unusual third-strike call

@gregjohnsmlb
September 12, 2019

SEATTLE -- Scott Servais earned his third ejection of the season and the 10th of his managerial career on Wednesday night following a strange play that cost his team a run in the top of the ninth. But the Mariners made the point moot by hanging on for a 5-3

SEATTLE -- Scott Servais earned his third ejection of the season and the 10th of his managerial career on Wednesday night following a strange play that cost his team a run in the top of the ninth. But the Mariners made the point moot by hanging on for a 5-3 win over the Reds.

Servais was ejected by home-plate umpire John Libka after Mariners reliever Anthony Bass appeared to have struck out Derek Dietrich for the third out with the bases loaded, but the ball bounced in the dirt, deflected off catcher Omar Narvaez and then caromed backward off Dietrich’s bat on his backswing.

At that point, the ruling should have been a dead ball, with Dietrich out. But none of the umpires saw the deflection and Dietrich ran to first on what was ruled a strike out/wild pitch as Tucker Barnhart scored from third to cut the margin to two.

Servais tried to argue that the ball was dead and the game should have been over, but balls and strikes are not reviewable. After Servais was ushered back to the dugout by bench coach Manny Acta, the crowd erupted as the play was shown on the big screen in center field at T-Mobile Park and Libka immediately turned to the dugout and ejected Servais.

Though plays under review are allowed to be shown once on the big screen under current MLB rules, this particular play was not a review. Plays that incite a crowd are not supposed to be shown on the stadium screen, but a case could also be made that the replay was merely being shown of a pitch that had been called a strike by the umpire.

Servais understood why the play wasn’t reviewed, but questioned why someone else in the four-man crew didn’t spot the deflection and he raced back out to argue again after getting tossed.

“It’s not on the list of reviewable plays,” Servais said. “But the frustrating thing is there’s no way that ball can get to the backstop unless somebody hit it there. I understand the third-base umpire is looking at the checked swing and making a call there, but there are two other umpires out there, if the home-plate umpire didn’t see it. It’s pretty obvious what happened. For the ball to ricochet that far away, after Omar had already blocked it, it’s right in front of them.”

Bass, who had entered the game after Sam Tuivailala had loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a hit batter, wound up earning the save by getting Joey Votto to ground out to first to end the game. But not before sparks had flown and blood pressures had risen in the home dugout.

“It’s one of those plays that ultimately you’ve just got to get it right,” Servais said. “In my opinion, you should just be able to get on the headset, they look at it New York and it’s a no-brainer. But it’s not on the list of reviewable plays.

“It was disappointing, but ultimately we got the win and we’ll focus on that. Anthony Bass did a heck of a job coming in there.”

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.