OAKLAND -- The Tigers scored just enough runs to earn rookie Michael Fulmer his fourth victory with a 4-1 win over the A's on Friday. They would have had more were it not for a strange double play in the fifth inning as Victor Martinez was at the plate with
OAKLAND -- The Tigers scored just enough runs to earn rookie Michael Fulmer his fourth victory with a 4-1 win over the A's on Friday. They would have had more were it not for a strange double play in the fifth inning as Victor Martinez was at the plate with a runner at third base.
With one out, Martinez hit a pop fly into foul territory that A's first baseman Yonder Alonso tracked down and caught. Alonso turned and threw to home plate, but the ball skipped past catcher Stephen Vogt.
Ian Kinsler, who doubled leading off the inning, alertly broke for home and appeared to score, but home-plate umpire Joe West ruled that the ball thrown by Alonso had struck Martinez in the leg as he was turning back toward the dugout and subsequently ruled the play dead and called Kinsler out.
"[Alonso's] throwing and Victor didn't try to get out of the way," Detroit bench coach Gene Lamont said of the play. "He didn't do it intentionally, but that doesn't have anything to do with the rule. I'd never seen it before but Joe was right. If the catcher would have caught the ball nothing would have been [called]. It seems like a funny rule, but it's a rule."
West, who was also the crew chief, cited parts of three rules in his explanation of the call.
"There are three places in the rule book that cover it," West said. "First of all, [Martinez is] a player in the game. Even though his interference was unintentional, because he's in the game, he's the exception to the rule."
West explained that because Martinez was at-bat and had already been called out on the play, he was responsible for avoiding the throw. Therefore, Kinsler was called out because of Martinez's interence on the throw home.
"He was not doing anything intentional to interfere with the play," West said. "Because he's in the game, had he been running the bases and got hit, it's nothing. But he wasn't running the bases."
The play left several players scratching their heads, including Kinsler who talked with West near home plate for several moments before Lamont came out to ask for clarification.
"I'd never seen anything like it," Kinsler said.
Martinez was equally baffled by the play. He spoke briefly before leaving the clubhouse. "That's the first time I've seen that," Martinez said.
The Tigers weren't the only ones questioning the call. Several members of the A's also were stymied by the ruling, including starting pitcher Sean Manaea.
"A lot of guys in the dugout were saying they've never seen that before too," Manaea said. "It was pretty unique and it was a good way to get out of the inning."
Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com.