Rays' mistake actually costs Blue Jays a run

July 27th, 2019

TORONTO -- looked like he’d put the Blue Jays ahead 2-1 in the fourth inning on Friday night at the Rogers Centre with a two-run double down the left-field line, but an unexpected bobble by Tommy Pham actually worked in the Rays’ favor.

As Pham played the ball off the low wall in foul territory, it bounced off his glove and carried back into the stands. Originally, it appeared that Randal Grichuk rounded third base and scored the second run behind Justin Smoak.

After the umpires gathered on the field, they sent Grichuk back to third base. Grichuk had been just a step away from rounding third when the ball entered the stands originally. The Blue Jays went on to lose the game 3-1.

“The correct ruling was that a ball not in flight was subsequently deflected out of play,” crew chief Jerry Meals said after the game. “At that point, the reward is two bases from the time of the pitch.”

With the umpiring crew interpreting the deflection as unintentional, Grichuk’s advancement was measured from where he started the play, not from where he stood when the ball entered the stands.

Rule Interpretation No. 20 from the 2019 MLB Umpire Manual dictates that "If a fair ball not in flight is deflected by a fielder and then goes out of play, the award is two bases from the time of pitch."

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo disagreed with the call at the time. With Toronto out of challenges, the umpiring crew still chose to get a second set of eyes on the play from New York. 

“I don’t know what happened,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who added that some of the debate centered around whether Pham intentionally deflected the ball into the stands or not. “As long as it didn’t go, I wasn’t going to go out for an explanation, so I was good with it.”

Danny Jansen flied out to end the inning, stranding both runners in scoring position.