CHICAGO -- A fifth-inning Cubs rally was nearly cut short when Albert Almora Jr. was called out at the plate tagging up on Anthony Rizzo's flyout to left field in Chicago's 4-3 win over the Phillies on Thursday at Wrigley Field.With two runs already home in the inning, Rizzo lofted
CHICAGO -- A fifth-inning Cubs rally was nearly cut short when Albert Almora Jr. was called out at the plate tagging up on Anthony Rizzo's flyout to left field in Chicago's 4-3 win over the Phillies on Thursday at Wrigley Field.
With two runs already home in the inning, Rizzo lofted a bases-loaded drive to Phillies left fielder Dylan Cozens, whose relay reached home at the same time as Almora's head-first dive. Almora couldn't get around catcher Andrew Knapp's left foot and was called out after Knapp applied the tag, ending the inning.
However, the Cubs challenged the call, and after a replay review, the ruling was overturned, as Knapp didn't allow Almora a path to the plate and therefore violated the home-plate collision rule, and the Cubs took a 4-1 lead.
"It was just a reaction play," Knapp said. "I was reaching up for the ball and just going back to make a tag. I don't think I would've done anything different."
"It's a very tough position for a catcher to be in," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think he did everything he could, everything in his power to play it fairly. It just so happened the determination was that he was blocking the plate."
According to Rule 7.13, catchers cannot block the plate from a runner attempting to score unless he has possession of the ball. It is up to the umpire to decide whether a catcher prevented a runner from scoring by blocking the plate before catching the ball.
The rule first came into effect prior to the 2015 season and was intended to increase player safety by eliminating "egregious" collisions at the plate.
Before then, catchers would do whatever they could to keep the runner from scoring, which usually meant standing between the runner and the plate. Conversely, baserunners would do whatever they had to do to score, even if that meant colliding with the catcher to reach the plate and knock the ball loose.
"I thought it was a great play. They made a great play -- great throw, great tag by the catcher," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought technically, he did a great job. Fortunately, the rule permitted the run, and we'll take it."
"As a runner, if I go feet first, I'm going at him. That might cause an injury to him or myself. I try to go head first and that might cause an injury, " Almora said. "It's a tough situation for both guys. ... I don't want to be a dirty player. He wants to prevent a run. It's tough."
Cubs catcher Chris Gimenez said he understood Knapp's dilemma on the play.
"That's a baseball play," Gimenez said. "That's what we've been taught to do our entire career. I feel there's potentially some gray area there. In a game situation, when the ball's coming in, that's the last thing you're thinking about -- you're trying to do whatever you can to get the guy out."
The run scored on the play ended up deciding the game after the Phillies scored two in the sixth.
"It's obviously upsetting just because they scored another run and we're not out of the inning," Cozens said. "It's disappointing. I thought he was out. I don't know what the ruling was. I guess it was interference."
The Phillies got out of the inning a batter later when Thomas La Stella was thrown out trying to steal home.
Matt Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.