When Major League Baseball expanded instant replay in 2014, there was sure to be some kinks to work out. Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins on this day five years, they feel victim to one of the most egregious overturned plays in replay history during what was the longest review.
Both the Marlins and Cincinnati Reds were 53-55 and 3.5 games back of the final National League wild card spot as they began a four-game series at Marlins Park on July 31, 2014. Instead of an outstanding pitching duel, it was a controversial call that stole the headlines.
The Marlins were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth inning when reliever Bryan Morris had seemingly done a Houdini act to get out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the frame. Morris struck out Kristopher Negron on four pitches for the first out before getting Todd Frazier to fly out to Giancarlo Stanton in right field. Stanton made the catch and fired a frozen rope to the plate to easily gun down Zack Cozart for what appeared to be an inning-ending double play.
“Not so fast,” the umpiring crew said.
A new rule put into place prior to the 2014 forbade catchers from blocking the plate on plays at home. According to Rule 7.13, “unless the catcher has possession of the ball, he cannot block the plate without giving a baserunner a path. It is not considered a violation if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw.”
Miami catcher Jeff Mathis appeared to give Cozart a lane and went into the basepath only to catch the throw from Stanton. The apparent out was made with ease. During the play, Cozart didn’t bother to slide.
After more than six minutes of review, however, it was determined that Mathis blocked Cozart’s path and the contest was even, 1-1.
Incredulous at what had just transpired, Marlins manager Mike Redmond came out to plead his case and was promptly ejected.
One batter later, the Reds went ahead for good on a two-run single by Ryan Ludwick off Morris. That would be all the offense in a 3-1 game. The call ended up spoiling an outstanding outing by Miami starting pitcher Tom Koehler, who ultimately took the loss despite allowing zero earned runs. The lone run for the Marlins came on a solo home run by Stanton in the first.
Despite the controversy, Major League Baseball stood by the call the following day.
Even now, Koehler feels this was an injustice.
It flat out pissed me off. I was pissed he didn’t attempt to slide. Mathis wrote to torre and got a bullshit explanation. Cueto got his 20th win and i got strapped with a stupid L— Tom Koehler (@TKREFRESH22) July 31, 2019
Cincinnati would wind up taking three of four games in South Florida, but the lasting memory from the series unfortunately would be the controversial call at the plate. It happened on this day five years ago.