Umpires review collision for Yanks-Blue Jays
TORONTO -- An umpire review of a play at home plate confirmed an on-field call in Saturday's game between the Yankees and Blue Jays, as New York's Francisco Cervelli was tagged out by Toronto catcher Josh Thole to end the top of the third inning.
It was announced that the umpiring crew initiated the review, checking to see if Thole had adhered to the new Rule 7.13, which requires that catchers provide a pathway for baserunners to approach home plate.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi left the dugout to ask the umpires about the play, which prompted the crew to call for the video. It was not considered a challenge in the strict sense of the rule, so the Yankees did not lose a challenge.
Cervelli was going home on a Jacoby Ellsbury single. Toronto center fielder Colby Rasmus fired a one-hop strike to Thole, who applied the tag to Cervelli sliding feet-first.
"I didn't know where to slide. I didn't have room," Cervelli said. "I think I put my left foot [on home plate], but I've got to check the video. I haven't seen it. I think the big picture here is, I didn't have room."
The review, which took one minute and 42 seconds, confirmed the original ruling by home-plate umpire Dana DeMuth. Girardi remained on the field after the confirmation was announced to further discuss the issue with DeMuth.
"The throw, I'm not sure the way he set up, but it took him down the line a bit -- not much," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But yeah, that's that gray area. You don't want to give someone an automatic run."
Girardi believes that Thole blocked home plate, and added that the Yankees have video angles that show Cervelli should have been called safe. (There needs to be overwhelming video evidence to overturn a call.)
"He was blocking home plate before he had the ball, so our runner is supposed to be declared safe," Girardi said. "In my opinion, he was blocking home plate, the way it was explained to us. No. 2, we believe that we have footage he was safe anyway.
"This is going to be the toughest replay of all of them, because it's such a judgment. The way it was explained to us, if the catcher is in front of home plate toward third base, straddling the base, that is considered blocking home plate if you don't have the ball. And I believe that's how it was."
Thole said he approached the play the same way he would have in 2013, before the new rule was instituted.
"I don't even understand the rule, to be honest with you," Thole said. "I don't even know. I don't know what I would have argued [if it had been overturned]. I mean, the ball kind of took me up the line, and I just went for the ball.
"I wasn't even aware that I gave him a lane to slide, I was just going to catch the ball. So with that being said, that would have been my argument, I guess: I was just going to catch the ball."
Girardi asked DeMuth if he could protest the game, based upon a possible misinterpretation of the new rules regarding collisions.
"I don't think that [DeMuth] thought [Thole] was blocking the plate," Girardi said. " I wanted to know if I could protest the game because of the rule. Maybe it's a misinterpretation of the rule, I don't know. But no, I'm not allowed to protest."
Home-plate path calls are not subject to challenges, though managers can suggest they be reviewed. Girardi said that even though a replay official in New York was asked to look at the path to the plate, he also is permitted to check on the safe or out call.
Cervelli thought he had a handle on how to approach plays at the plate, but after Saturday's incident, he plans to speak to the coaching staff about the rule. Thole plans to continue playing as he normally would and let the chips fall where they may.
"It's really confusing," Thole said. "I'll be honest -- I don't know if anybody really knows the rule with what they're trying to do, because you can still get hit at home plate. So I don't know. I'm just going to do it the way I've always done it."
Girardi believes it would be helpful to have more written clarification about the rules.
"As I said, I believe this is going to be the toughest overall for them to get right all the time," he said. "To me it's a vague interpretation of what blocking home plate is, and I think it needs to be in writing."