Tonight, the Blue Jays had a lead, and ultimately, a game, taken away from them because of a new rule that was introduced prior to the season, and a typical lack of an ability for the umpires to interpret that rule based on the specific scenario.
Trailing 3-2 with 1 out and the bases juiced in the top of the 9th, Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder to 3rd base. Evan Longoria tossed to Logan Forsythe for the 2nd out, and Forsythe’s throw to first eluded first baseman Steve Pearce, allowing Ryan Goins and Josh Donaldson to score. 4-3 Jays. Hooray!
But as Jose Bautista slid into second base, his left hand grazed Forsythe’s leg. An official review would determine that this was a violation of the new sliding rule.
Bautista was ruled out, and the game was over.
This new rule is Rule 6.01(j), which states:
(A) runner will have to make a “bona fide slide,” which is defined as making contact with the ground before reaching the base, being able to and attempting to reach the base with a hand or foot, being able to and attempting to remain on the base at the completion of the slide (except at home plate) and not changing his path for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.
Well, if you all saw the same slide that I did, it looked pretty clean. Jose did not change his path, and as he said afterwards, he was trying to get his arm out of the way.
Regardless of what the rule is, there is no evidence whatsoever that Jose’s arm affected Forsythe’s throw to first base.
Deciding a game on not only a broad rule (designed for safety…on a perfectly safe play), but on a replay overturn is an absolute joke of a way to end a game, especially one in the midst of a spirited (AND COMPLETED) comeback.
I get why replay overturns are mostly a good thing. Games like this highlight the need (or ultimately, the preference) for calls that matter to be made correctly.
But plays like Alex Rios getting called out on a slide into second in the ALCS last year – because replay determined he had hopped off the bag on the slide – and tonight’s call, make travesties of the overturn system.
If a slide isn’t dangerous enough for the umpire to even see it, why must we nitpick?
Why does the call need to be perfect? Humans make errors. That’s why we don’t pay to watch machines play sports.
So now, in addition to every slide into home plate, almost every double play now will be subject to review. Surely that won’t disturb the flow of the game any more than necessary replays already do. Can’t wait.
Of course, the Jays had plenty of opportunities outside the 9th inning to add insurance to the slim 2-1 lead they’d held since the 4th inning (and coughed up in the 8th on a 2-run shot to Forsythe).
They were just 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position, and left 11 runners on base in all.
But all in all, the Blue Jays squandered a stellar start from Aaron Sanchez, who tossed seven innings of five hit ball; his only blemish being a 4th inning solo blast by Corey Dickerson. He walked nobody, struck out eight, and deserved a better outcome.
As did the fans in this one, and as did the Blue Jays.
The Jays will look to win just their 5th series ever at the horrible Tropicana Field Wednesday in a 1:10 matinee.
J.A. Happ will take on Matt Moore – who is left-handed, and we all know how this lineup tends to treat lefties.