Despite a Giancarlo Stanton home run and a solid outing by Tom Koehler, the Marlins fell to the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 on Thursday night. An eighth inning obstruction call that was overturned allowed the Reds to tie the game and eventually take the lead.
Bryan Morris was pitching with the bases loaded and one out, and got Todd Frazier to hit a fly ball to right field. Giancarlo Stanton's throw took Jeff Mathis a bit towards the third base line, and while initially Zack Cozart was called out by a bunch at the plate, a crew-chief challenge overturned the call on the field.
The full video clip of the play from the Marlins' broadcast can be found here.
Mathis was ruled to be in violation of the newly instituted Rule 7.13 from Major League Baseball, which stipulates: "unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe."
While the rule leaves a lot of room for interpretation, the Marlins and Manager Mike Redmond had a valid argument. The rule begins "unless the catcher is in possession of the ball," but Mathis carefully watches the position of his feet until he received the ball.
The throw from Giancarlo Stanton in right field took Mathis a bit towards the third base line, but the rule allows a catcher to move towards the front of the plate if he is looking to receive a throw. That appeared to be the case here.
In addition to Mathis not blocking the plate since he was simply going after the baseball, Cozart's decision making on the play may change the way the rule is phrased and implemented. Cozart was out by a bit, but he did not try to slide and instead allowed himself to be tagged out, claiming the call shout be safe and that Mathis was blocking the plate without control of the baseball.
Cozart's attitude could be indicative of a change of mind, where some players, specifically on plays at the plate, are more focused on how they can manipulate a play to win a challenge rather than playing the game the traditional way.
It wasn't long before Redmond was ejected for arguing the call, while the Reds got a break. As it was, the call allowed the tying run to score before Ryan Ludwick broke the tie with a two-RBI single against Morris.
The call played a significant role late in the game, and in addition to Redmond, Miami's front office was vocal about the frustration the ruling caused.
Redmond: "To lose ball game on that play is and absolute joke. What a f---ing joke." #Marlins— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) August 1, 2014
Samson: "I compliment Mike Redmond for not going through the phone into New York. Because that's what I would have done."— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) August 1, 2014
Samson: "Everyone in baseball should be embarrassed by a call like that." #Marlins— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) August 1, 2014
Statement from MLB: We have begun to examine the Crew Chief Review in tonight's Reds-Marlins game— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) August 1, 2014