Interference call in 8th has big impact
Longoria crosses plate, called out; Mahtook caught stealing to end inning
ST. PETERSBURG -- A key interference call changed the tenor of the eighth inning, and potentially the final outcome in Baltimore's 2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
After O's right-hander Darren O'Day hit Grady Sizemore in the knee, pinch-runner Mikie Mahtook took over at first base. Mahtook promptly stole second base in a close play, but home-plate umpire Dale Scott ruled Evan Longoria -- who hit catcher Matt Wieters on his backswing -- committed batter interference.
"Longoria took a swing, and he hit me with the backswing first, I think the umpire saw that," Wieters said. "He also crossed the plate, and that's what he called, so that means Longoria is out and the runner has to go back to first. I knew he got me with the backswing, so I thought worst-case [scenario] he would have to go back to first and Longoria would still be hitting."
As a result of Scott's call, Longoria was the second out of the inning, and Mahtook had to return to first base. Longoria said he didn't agree with interference call and thought at most it would be a dead ball or just Mahtook sent back.
"I swung, he made a good throw, I hit him with the backswing in the hip and knelt down and felt like I was out of the way, and he called batter interference," Longoria said. "I said, 'I hit him with my backswing. I didn't really leave the box,' and [Scott] said, 'I didn't see that.'
"At the very least, it should have been a no-call, and at most, it should have been incidental contact. I don't think it was the right call. If Dale had a chance to do it over again, he might either not make the call or just make the incidental contact call."
Back at first, it didn't take long for Mahtook to try the steal again, and this time Wieters was ready. The All-Star took a high pitch from O'Day and fired to second baseman Jonathan Schoop to nab Mahtook on an inning-ending caught stealing.
"I don't know exactly the terminology of the rule, but kudos to Dale for making that call," O'Day said. "Obviously, I'm in favor of it. It helped me out in a tough situation. What I really took away from it is Wieters made two unbelievable throws. If you see me, I actually fist-pumped. I thought he was out on the first one. That's how good the throw was. And there aren't many better taggers than Schoop. Yeah, it helped me out when I didn't have my best stuff today."