HOUSTON— Nationals manager Dave Martinez was ejected during the seventh inning stretch of Game 6 of the World Series against the Astros for arguing aquestionable interference callinvolving leadoff man Trea Turner. Martinez became the first manager ejected from a World Series game since Bobby Cox for the Braves against the Yankees in 1996.
Martinez, who recently had a heart procedure, was livid over the call and had to be held back by bench coach Chip Hale before leaving the game.
In the top of the seventh, Turner hit a dribbler just a few feet from home plate off Astros relieverBrad Peacock. Since Turner can fly, the play ended up being very close at first, but the throw hit Turner and got away. The Nationals ended up withYan Gomes(who had singled) on third base and Turner on second.
Instead, the umpires ruled that Turner had interfered at first base, which meant he was out and Gomes had to go all the way back to first. Here’s the play:
Here’s rule 5.09a.
The lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane and a batter-runner is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines marking the lane. Thebatter-runner is permitted to exit the threefoot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base.
Given that Turner was stepping on first base, the part in bold above should likely have indicated Turner would be ruled safe. He had to touch the base. That’s just part of the game. It’s basic. The rule says right there he’s allowed to move to get to the base.
After a far-too-lengthy review, the ruling on the field was upheld and Turner was ruled out. It was a head-scratcher. Further complicating matters was that Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the delay was due to the umpires not being able to get a hold of anyone on the phone. What in the world?
Major League Baseball’s chief baseball officer Joe Torre explained why he believed the call to be correct:
“Well, he was called out because he ran, there’s a 45-foot restraining line where you’re supposed to run as a baserunner in between those lines,” Torre said. “He ran to first base. That wasn’t the call. The call was that he interfered with Gurriel trying to catch the ball — you notice the glove came off his hand. That’s when Sam Holbrook called him out for basically interference.”
When asked how he would avoid similar plays in the future, Turner said: “Two answers: Change the rule, or change the dimensions of the field and/or where the batter’s box is, where first base is and all that. For me, I don’t want like messing with the game. I like it the way it is. That’s the rule. If I can’t run where I ran, that should be changed.”
The Nationals would get some measure of revenge asAnthony Rendonhit a two-run homer, but it still had Martinez hot. He was tossed between innings.
“I think everyone was fired up about that, not that we needed the extra motivation for anything like that,” Adam Eaton said following Game 6. “Davey goes out there and puts his heart out there and we absolutely loved it. We absolutely loved that he showed everything out there.”
The Nationals filed a protest that the rule was misapplied during the game, but given that they defeated Houston, 7-2, to force a Game 7 on Wednesday, they’ll just drop the protest.
In fact, Martinez admitted he knew the protest wouldn’t be upheld anyway.
“I just wanted them to watch the play,” he said.
When pressed on what exactly he was protesting, he said, with a laugh, “nothing,” because he knew you couldn’t protest judgement calls.
“You see your skipper go out there and basically stick up for the players, stick up for the team, and when you do that, it turns,” Eaton added. “We scored four runs right after that. It’s weird how momentum, you can find it anywhere, really. I think that was for us a big push to add on late.”