Umpire Meals says he was wrong; play in eighth costs Red Sox tying run
BOSTON -- It took a 39-minute rain delay for the Red Sox to finally string a few hits together against the Rays on Monday night. They had the tying run at third base in Daniel Nava. There was a fly ball hit to left field off the bat of Brandon Snyder. And Nava appeared to beat Sam Fuld's throw to home, sliding under the tag of catcher Jose Molina.
But home-plate umpire Jerry Meals saw the play differently and ruled Nava out at the plate.
Meals conceded he made the wrong call to a pool reporter after the game.
"What I saw was: Molina blocked the plate and Nava's foot lifted," Meals said. "But in the replays, you could clearly see Nava's foot got under for a split second and then lifted, so I was wrong on my decision. From the angle I had, I did not see his foot get under Molina's shin guard."
Nava immediately began protesting the call and was soon joined in the argument by manager John Farrell. With tempers growing and Farrell's words being heard at close distance, Meals ejected the Boston skipper.
The Red Sox eventually fell to the Rays, 2-1. It marked just the second time Farrell has been ejected as manager of the Red Sox.
If there has been a call to argue this season, this might have been it. The Red Sox entered Monday with a half-game lead over the surging Rays in the American League East, but the two teams swapped positions after the result.
"It was a missed call," Farrell said. "Terrible call. Clearly, the angle of Jerry Meals behind the plate when the throw came in, he did not see the view. Daniel Nava clearly was safe. It's unfortunate. We should still be playing right now."
Third-base coach Brian Butterfield didn't love Nava's odds, since Fuld has a good arm and outfielders can play short at Fenway Park with the Green Monster at 310 feet.
"No, I didn't feel real comfortable with it," Butterfield said. "But the catch made two outs, so that's the time that you try to push it a little bit more. And we did, and he made a great throw, and I think Jose Molina is one of the best catch-and-tag guys in all of baseball at that position. Big body, I thought Daniel had a good break and I thought Daniel made a great slide. That's just the way it happened."
Had Nava scored from second on a one-out double by Stephen Drew earlier in the inning, the close play at home would have never happened.
Drew launched a fly ball deep to right field, but Nava held close to the bag and inched back to second, anticipating the need to tag up. The ball fell at the warning track and Nava was only able to make it to third on the play.
"It doesn't really matter, the view," Nava said. "You've just got to read that right. I didn't read that right. Instead of taking the initial secondary [lead] and then extending off with one out, I thought for a sec, 'It looks like he's about to catch this ball,' and started creeping back. I shouldn't have had that read, but I did."
Farrell said Nava should have stayed halfway between second and third, since there was only one out.
"He got halfway, which, with one out, you're hopeful to go halfway," the manager said. "And then, as he saw Myers going back on the ball, I think he anticipated an over-the-shoulder catch, so he started to make ground back to second base. After the ball hit the wall, he didn't have enough momentum to attempt to score there. Just a misread at that point on the deep fly ball to right."