BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell was anything but inconclusive in his judgment of the play in which Dustin Pedroia was called out at the plate in the seventh inning, a play that proved critical in a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday afternoon.
“I thought not only did Dustin beat the throw, beat the tag, but it felt like his left foot made some contact with home plate," Farrell said between games of Thursday’s split double-header with the Rays. “Our video internally showed that was the case and upon review, the call came back and stood. [They] felt like it wasn’t conclusive enough evidence to overturn the call on the field."
Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield was so convinced the umpires got it wrong that he threw his cap in anger and was ejected when the umpiring crew announced that, after a review in New York, the call stood because there was not sufficient evidence to overturn it.
Losing pitcher Jake Peavy, who was watching on the clubhouse TV, was equally emphatic that Pedroia had scored on the play.
“There’s no doubt," Peavy said. “I saw the same thing you guys saw. But clearly, replay -- I don’t know, I guess it can’t be close. If it’s close, they seem to stick with the call. It’s hard for me to talk right now without absolutely going off.
“As many times as it happened in New York, then you come up ... these are deciding ballgames. It’s extremely frustrating and we as a whole, MLB, we’ve got to get our act together because this is a joke. It’s embarrassing for fans and everybody to see. Of course he touched the plate, of course he slid dirt over the top of the plate and got tagged after the fact. That stinks.”
Pedroia, who had opened the seventh inning by lining a single, was attempting to score from first on a one-out double high off the left-field wall by David Ortiz. Pedroia got a great jump, but Rays left-fielder Matt Joyce bare-handed the ball off the wall and threw to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who wheeled and threw a strike to catcher Jose Molina. First-base umpire Toby Badner, who had rotated to the plate when plate umpire C.B. Bucknor headed to third base because third-base umpire Dan Iassogna had headed to the outfield to watch the ball off the wall, made an emphatic “out” call, eliciting an immediate protest from Pedroia.
Farrell trotted out of the dugout, asked for a review, and 1 minute and 52 seconds later the ruling from New York was handed down, which led to the ejection of the enraged Butterfield.
To date, Farrell has challenged five plays; only once has a challenge come back in his favor.
“Looking back at it, I thought Toby was in position," Farrell said. “He felt like Dustin slid to the right of home plate. The mark in the dirt by home plate showed he went across the back edge, but their review said they couldn’t tell conclusively if he actually touched home plate or not.
“I can’t speak to the overall percentage of plays overturned, the decisions overturned, but 1-for-5 is not a good rate. And yet we’ve got differing opinions, obviously, because we’re challenging plays as they’re called on the field. I don’t really have any other comment than that."
Pedroia said he had not watched a replay other than what was shown on the center-field video board. “I got the back part of the plate," he said.
“I just know if I plow into the catcher, I’m ejected, out, fined and suspended," said the Sox second baseman, alluding to the new rule regarding plate collisions and the penalties facing base-runners who initiate collisions with a catcher. “My job is to go as hard as I can to the back part of the plate and slide, and I did that."
Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters afterward that the Rays’ review of the play showed Pedroia never touching the plate, a view also expressed by Rays catcher Jose Molina, who said he made a swipe tag of the Sox second baseman.
Pedroia gave the Rays some credit.
“It was a great baseball play," he said. “I got a great jump, they executed a great relay. A great baseball play that didn’t go our way."
Still, he expressed frustration with the way the decision was rendered.
“I just don’t like the whole inconclusive replay," he said. “Go check it out, you’re either out or safe. I don’t know what inconclusive means. Maybe that means someone doesn’t want to make a decision. I don’t know, we all make decisions every day. Some of them are hard, some of them are not. You got to make them, though."
Peavy expressed bewilderment with the system, newly implemented this season.
“I just don’t understand how you can watch replay and ... what’s the holdup?" he said. “I just want explanations... Today when a call that obviously is close, I’ll give it to you it’s close, but wouldn’t you err on the side of what I think we all saw? And that’s his touching the plate before.
“It’s extremely frustrating when that decides ballgames, and we agreed to replay to get the calls right. That’s the reason we agreed for this to happen and to not get them right, I don’t want to hear anybody’s explanation. I know what I see, you can’t talk me into anything different when you see what you see. Dustin Pedroia was clearly safe, albeit close, clearly safe. I don’t know what else to say.”
Peavy said he originally favored replay.
“Who isn’t supportive of getting calls that decide the ballgame [right]," he said. “These calls decide the outcome of the game, let’s get them right. I have no problems with slowing the game, even stopping the game, for that to happen. When you go through that and you don’t get the call right, which has happened on numerous occasions against us, I don’t know how you want us to have a good attitude and be all for it.”