Analyzing key catcher's interference call in Phillies-Braves Game 1

October 8th, 2023

ATLANTA -- While the umpires reviewed a catcher’s interference call in the Phillies’ 3-0 win over the Braves in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Saturday night, Atlanta catcher Sean Murphy knew J.T. Realmuto’s bat had nicked a portion of his glove.

“I didn’t feel it, but I heard it,” Murphy said. 

It was a frustration-filled night for the Braves, who saw their historically great offense blanked for just the third time this year. Spencer Strider did his job by limiting the damage to two runs (one earned) over seven innings, which put Atlanta in position for a potential late-inning comeback win.

But the largest crowd in Truist Park history (43,689) grew more restless in the eighth inning, when a run scored on the bases-loaded catcher’s interference with two outs. It initially appeared Realmuto fouled off Pierce Johnson’s 2-1 curveball. But plate umpire Brian O’Nora ruled interference, and the call stood after a replay review.

Murphy didn’t argue with the ruling, and Realmuto immediately went toward first base expecting the call to be made.

“All I had was the big board,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I looked, and Murph didn't say anything, and I don't know that a hitter reacts like that. Things happen too quick for a guy to react like that if it didn't happen. But I couldn't tell off the video there.”

All Realmuto’s bat had to do was simply make contact with any portion of Murphy’s mitt, including the laces.

According to MLB’s umpire manual: “Hanging laces attached to a defensive player’s glove shall count when determining whether or not a ball was touched over fair territory and whether or not a catcher interfered with a batter’s attempt to strike at a pitched ball. As stated in the definition of a Tag, contact with hanging laces alone does not constitute a tag.”

Some fans reacted angrily by throwing objects on the field, creating a brief delay.

“There's no excuse for that,” Snitker said. “I've been on that field when that's happened, and it's scary. Because those water bottles when they come, they're like grenades, and it could really seriously injure one of our players. That's uncalled for.”