- Controversy struck the World Series on Tuesday when the Washington Nationals’ Trea Turner was called out for interfering with the first baseman after a wild throw to first hit Turner as he crossed the base.
- The call triggered a confusing review, an ejection from Nationals manager Dave Martinez, and widespread criticism from the baseball world.
- The call ended up not affecting the Nationals, as two batters later, they hit a two-run home run to extend their lead and tie the series.
- All eyes will be on the umpires heading into the decisive Game 7.
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The Washington Nationals on Tuesday tied the World Series with the Houston Astros with a 7-2 win to force Game 7.
However, the win was nearly threatened in the seventh inning thanks to a controversial call that ruled the Nationals’ Trea Turner out because of interference with the first basemen.
In the top of the seventh inning, with the Nationals leading 3-2 and a man on first, Turner hit a dribbler toward the third baseline. Astros pitcher Brad Peacock fielded the ball and threw to first, hitting Turner in the process and sending the ball past first basemen Yuli Gurriel, whose glove also hit Turner and flew off.
Turner advanced to second base on the error and the Yan Gomes reached third base.
However, umpires called interference on Turner, ruling that he affected Gurriel’s ability to catch the ball. Turner was called out and Gomes returned to first base.
Here’s a replay of Turner’s run:
People in the baseball world, from players to analysts, disagreed with the call.
Dumbest rule in Major League Baseball… Absolutely no reason for that to be called. Ever. #WorldSeries2019
— Travis Shaw (@travis_shaw21) October 30, 2019
That is an absolutely awful call… what are we doin?
— Jake Arrieta (@JArrieta34) October 30, 2019
You can’t make that call in the World Series. The ball took the 1st baseman off the base…
— Delino DeShields (@LinoDeShields) October 30, 2019
Here's the biggest problem with that call: If Brad Peacock doesn't make a bad throw to first base, Yuli Gurriel isn't stretched into the baseline. If he's not stretched into the baseline, Trea Turner doesn't run into him.
So … you penalize Turner for a crap Peacock throw? Huh?
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 30, 2019
Honestly, where is Trea Turner supposed to run there?
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 30, 2019
Turner running outside of the 45-foot lane did not cause interference. The ball and Turner arrived at the base simultaneously. At that point Turner has the right to be in fair territory. He is not automatically out for being outside the lane, only if doing so interferes with play
— Steve Phillips (@StevePhillipsGM) October 30, 2019
That’s as bad as it gets. Rewarding a bad stretch and a bad throw.
— Josh Donaldson (@BringerOfRain20) October 30, 2019
Where was Turner supposed to run?
As seen in the tweets above, many felt that although Turner may have been too far inside the line during his run to first, he was right on target when he reached first base. The ball arrived at the same time Turner reached the bag. Some felt that Turner was punished for a poor throw from Peacock.
“For me, I mean, what else do you do?” Turner said after the game (via ESPN’s David Schoenfield). “I don’t know. The batter’s box is in fair territory. First base is in fair territory. I swung, I ran in a straight line, I got hit with the ball and I’m out. I don’t understand it.”
Joe Torre, the MLB’s chief baseball officer, after the game offered a somewhat confusing interpretation. Torre noted that runners cannot be out of the line for the final 45 feet to the base. However, Torre said that’s not what Turner was called for – he said it was for interfering with Gurriel.
“The call was the fact that [Turner] interfered with Gurriel trying to catch the ball,” Torre told Fox Sports. “You notice the glove came off his hand. That’s when Sam Holbrook called him out for basically interference … He made the right call.”
Nationals manager Dave Martinez was ejected after the inning and had to be restrained from umpires. According to Schoenfield, Martinez is the first manager to be ejected from a World Series game since 1996.
What about the review?
Another confusing and controversial aspect of the play was that the umpires gathered and appeared to be reviewing the play. However, the play was not reviewable, according to Torre, who said it was a “judgment call,” which umpires cannot review.
Torre said that managers can ask umpires to review the rules if they disagree with a call. The umpires gathered and after four minutes and 32 seconds, they made their decision.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the game that it “took a really long time for nothing to happen.”
Adding to the confusion, Martinez said after the game that he played the game under protest – except that the Nationals could not play the game under protest because the call was a judgment call.
“I know you can’t protest a judgment call. I wanted him to … just look at the play, and (give) like a rule check,” Martinez said (via The Athletic’s Jayson Stark). “We were told before the series started that we can ask for a rule check. But part of me just said, ‘Hey, we’ll protest the game … Just check the rules.’ And they did that.”
The Nationals got their revenge
After much confusion, the play didn’t end up costing the Nationals too much. Two batters later, Anthony Rendon hit a two-run home run to push the Nationals lead to 5-2.
While the call on Turner was fairly inconsequential in the end, it only raises the stakes for Game 7. In a series where the umpires have been highly criticised for questionable calls, tensions are only higher heading into the series-deciding contest.
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