HOUSTON -- A controversial call in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's Game 6 of the World Series led to the ejection of manager Dave Martinez from the Nationals’ 7-2 win over the Astros.
The play ended up not having a major impact on the final score, but everybody watching became more familiar with Rule 5.09(a) -- especially Nats shortstop Trea Turner.
Here’s what happened:
With Yan Gomes at first and no outs, Turner hit a weak grounder toward third base, where Astros pitcher Brad Peacock fielded the ball and tried to throw him out at first. The throw arrived at first the same time as Turner, who knocked the glove from first baseman Yuli Gurriel as the ball rolled into foul territory down the right-field line. As a result, Turner advanced to second base and Gomes went to third.
Plate umpire Sam Holbrook called Turner out for interference, which also meant that Gomes had to return to first. Martinez came out of the dugout to dispute the call, but because the decision was considered a “judgment call,” the play was not reviewable. And for the same reason -- it was a judgment call -- the game could not be played under protest.
Still, the umpires did go to the review headsets during an ensuing pitching change, because, as MLB’s chief baseball officer Joe Torre explained to FOX’s Ken Rosenthal, both managers were told before the start of the World Series that they could ask the umps to go to the headsets if they were concerned about any rule being misinterpreted, whether it was specifically for a replay review or not.
Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(11) states:
A batter is out when: In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three-foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball.
“The ruling was that Trea Turner interfered, basically -- not basically, he interfered with the first baseman trying to make a play,” Torre explained postgame. “In fact, Gurriel's glove even came off at that point in time. He did run to the fair side of the 45-foot line, but really the violation was when he kept Gurriel from being able to catch the ball at first base.
Though Torre said he could relate, as a former manager, to Martinez’s frustration in the moment, he called Holbrook’s decision “the right call.”
Between innings, Martinez continued to argue with the umps and was ejected by crew chief Gary Cederstrom. It was the first time a manager was ejected in a World Series game since the Braves’ Bobby Cox in Game 6 in 1996.
“Look, I don't want to sit here and talk about me or the umpires,” Martinez said. “This is not about me or the umpires. This is about the Washington Nationals and those guys in the clubhouse coming to Game 6 and playing lights out, knowing that this could be it. And I'm super proud of them. In the heat of the moment, things get blown out of hand. I saw things differently. But I'm not going to -- like I said, I'm never going to criticize any umpires or anything, because they're a big part of the game.”