So, as many of you hopefully know by now, there was a very controversial ending to Game 3. here is a slight recap:
Tied up, 4-4, bottom 9. 1 out
Yadier Molina singles off Brandon Workman.
Allen Craig doubles, men on second and third.
Infield in. Jon Jay hits hard grounder to Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia makes a diving grab, throws home. Jarrod Saltalamcchia applies the tag to Molina. Craig advancing to third. Saltalamcchia makes an errant throw to Will Middlebrooks at third, whom dives for the ball, but it gets past him. Craig tries to advance home, but gets tripped up over Middlebrooks’ outstretched body. Daniel Nava from right field throws Craig out at the plate, but third base umpire Jim Joyce ruled obstruction on Middlebrooks, awarding Craig home. Cardinals win, 5-4, taking 2-1 lead in the World Series.
Here is the official definition of obstruction:
OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.
Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered in the act of fielding a ball. It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the act of fielding the ball. For example: If an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.
Here is the full video of the play
According to the rulebook, Middlebrooks was obstructing the play, even though it was not intentional, nor did he have anywhere to go. Also, Craig was out of the base path when he tripped over Middlebrooks, but in a post game press conference, umpire Jim Joyce stated that the base path is the direct path from the play to the base.
There were many factors that led to this ending, many of which could have been avoidable.
These are some, mentioned by Matthew Pouliot of NBC’s HardballTalk.com:
– Craig scored because Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whom manager John Farrell forgot to take out of the game, made a wild throw to third that Will Middlebrooks, a mid-game replacement, couldn’t grab because he was more concerned with staying on the base than getting in front of the ball.
– Craig drew the throw to third because he got a terrible jump off second on Jon Jay‘s grounder, freezing on the play even though he wasn’t supposed to be involved at all; he should have simply ran to third as soon as he saw Yadier Molina take off ahead of him. Had that happened, there’s no throw at all.
– Molina, who had the first hit of the inning, got his hit because Shane Victorino was playing no-doubles defense in right field. Had Molina hit the same ball in the sixth inning, there’s a good chance it would have been caught.
– Molina’s hit came off Brandon Workman, who actually got to hit in the top of the ninth in a tie game. Because manager John Farrell forgot to double-switch in the bottom of the eighth and have David Ross replace Saltalamacchia.
– And that’s because Breslow gave up an infield single to Matt Carpenter on a ball that might have been handled by Stephen Drew at shortstop, except Drew had just replaced by a pinch-hitter. Breslow then hit Carlos Beltran on the elbow pad with a pitch. Beltran made no motion to avoid it, yet was awarded the base anyway. Had things turned out a bit differently in that frame and Breslow had stayed in, perhaps Craig would have pinch-hit then and not even have been available for the ninth. And had Farrell been able to get through the seventh using only one of Breslow or Tazawa, there’s a good chance Uehara finishes the eighth or is at least in there to start the ninth, since Farrell would still have one more guy he trusted in reserve.
– Middlebrooks was in the game because left-hander Kevin Siegrist pitched the seventh. Had Siegrist not given up a homer to David Ortiz in Game 1, he’s probably the choice to pitch to Ortiz and Daniel Nava in the sixth rather than Randy Choate. Because while manager Mike Matheny definitely wanted a lefty to face Ortiz, he didn’t want to risk Choate on the switch-hitter Nava; Siegrist would have been a much better choice to face him. And had Siegrist pitched then, Drew likely stays in to hit against a right-hander the following inning.
– Should I keep going? If Kolten Wong doesn’t steal second on a 2-1 pitch in the eighth, Beltran isn’t intentionally walked to send up Matt Holliday. Either Beltran could have done something good or he would have made an out, meaning Holliday would have started the ninth and the whole dynamic would have changed again.
– Blow it all up… the Cardinals were probably one hit away from knocking Jake Peavy out in the first inning tonight. Had that happened, not only might they have cruised to a victory, but it would have affected the whole Game 4 dynamic as well.
Farrell had Ross, Napoli, and Berry available to pinch hit, yet decided to stick with Workman to bat in the top of the 9th inning, who, as surprising as it is, struck out.
This is the first time in postseason history that a game has ended on an obstruction call. According to an unofficial look by Baseball , obstruction has been called twice in the postseason. Game 4 of the 1986 NLCS between the Mets and Astros and in Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS between the Athletics and Red Sox. They found one game that ended on an obstruction call: a 2-1 victory by the Devil Rays over the Mariners on August 6, 2004.
All of this is very interesting. Controversial? I don’t think so, according to the rulebook. I’m sure many people find controversy over it, but they have not read the rulebook or Rule 2.00 at the least.
Please feel free to leave you thoughts in the comments and take the poll.