WASHINGTON -- In the evening game of a doubleheader in which extra innings were forced by a ninth-inning throwing error at shortstop, the outcome of an 8-7 Phillies win over the Nationals at Nationals Park was decided by a disputed play at the same position.
Tied 6-6, the Phillies opened the 10th inning with Kyle Schwarber as the automatic runner on second. Rhys Hoskins drew a walk off Steve Cishek, and Nick Castellanos advanced the runners to second and third with a groundout.
When J.T. Realmuto singled into center field, Schwarber scored the go-ahead run and Lane Thomas fired the ball home to beat Hoskins, the trail runner, to the plate. But the play was waved off and the insurance run was credited to the Phillies when second base umpire and crew chief Dan Iassogna called shortstop Luis García for obstructing Hoskins on the base paths. Nationals manager Dave Martinez was ejected by Iassogna.
What’s the rule?
Rule 6.01(h) states: "When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal ‘Obstruction.’
(1) If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire’s judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out."
What did the umpire say?
Iassogna, to a pool reporter: “In that instance, we felt like the fielder had already attempted to make a play on the ball, and then the contact occurred. Once he does that, he’s got to vacate, he’s got to get out of the way of the runner. So once he tries to field the ball, once we feel like he’s done that, he’s tried to field the ball, it’s his job to get out of the way of the runner. I know it was very close when that happened, and it’s a judgment call. It’s a very close judgment call.
“By rule, if we felt like he was in the act of fielding the ball, then we wouldn’t have called obstruction. But we felt like he already had an opportunity to field the ball, and then the contact occurred afterward. And then it’s on the defense to get out of the way of the offensive player. And then we felt that because of the contact, Hoskins would have scored without the contact. That’s why we placed him at home.”
What did the Nationals say?
Martinez: “[I was frustrated with] everything. It was interference, and then they gave obstruction to Luis. So if [Hoskins] gets obstruction, he’s awarded third base, he’s not awarded home. After he touches third base and he rounds the base, to me, it’s fair game. He got thrown out by 40 feet. So what are we doing? Really, what are we doing? He told me that Luis had plenty of time to catch the ball. The ball was in front of Luis when he ran into Hoskins. So what are we doing? Honestly, what are we doing?”
García: “What can I say, to be honest, with all due respect, I just don’t agree with the call. … I was still trying to field the ball.” (Editorial note: this was two responses combined into one.)
Juan Soto: “It’s a pretty tough call. I was talking with one of the umpires the other day, and he was telling me that in plays like that, the fielders always have the advantage. They cover the whole time until they catch the ball. And it didn’t happen in that time. I was just a little confused about it. For me, I think Luis should be protected by that ball because he was going for it, and [Hoskins] knows where he was and he should go around him. But at the end of the day, they made the call. It went [Philadelphia’s] way and we just couldn’t do anything else.”
What the Phillies said:
Hoskins: “I am aware of the interference rules, but I don't know them to a tee the way [third base coach Dusty Wathan] does. I learned afterward that if the intent of the runner is not to score from the get go, then I would have been out. So as I’m rounding third, [Wathan] says, ‘Don’t stop! Don’t stop! You’re going to be out, but don’t slow up!’ Props to him for knowing exactly what the rule is on the fly.”
Bryce Harper: “It just goes to show how great of a baseball mind [Wathan] has. I think everybody in the dugout was thinking it. That was such a great baseball play.”
Interim manager Rob Thomson: "[Wathan] knows the obstruction rule. It was huge. Really smart."