MINNEAPOLIS — An overturned call in the 10th inning Sunday led to a 3-2 Blue Jays victory and an ejection for Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who labeled the play “one of the worst moments I think we’ve seen of umpiring in any game I’ve ever been a part of in baseball.”
Caleb Thielbar pitched the 10th for the Twins and gave up a sacrifice fly to Toronto’s Cavan Biggio, with Whit Merrifield running from third. Merrifield was originally called out at the plate trying to score the game-winning run, but the call was reversed after Twins catcher Gary Sanchez was deemed to have interfered with Merrifield.
“It’s one of the worst moments I think we’ve seen of umpiring in any game I’ve ever been a part of in baseball, and I think it was pathetic what just played out,” said Baldelli, who was ejected for arguing the call, the eighth time in his career he was thrown out of a game and third this season.
Replay officials ruled Sanchez did not establish a clear lane for Merrifield, whose right foot collided with Sanchez’s left leg as he slid into home plate. The out would have ended the inning.
“I had a feeling there was going to be a play at the plate,” Merrifield said. “Put my head down first couple steps then looked up and tried to figure out how to get into home plate and saw Gary straddling home plate so tried to just slide into him, straight into him best I could. I know what the rule is, it was just a matter of if they were going to call it.”
Sanchez argued that he left a path.
“He slid towards me. I’m just tagging him,” Sanchez said. “I had the ball first. I think the line was open for him to slide to the side. He didn’t. It was a clean play.”
After blowing a save opportunity in the ninth inning, Jordan Romano closed out the Twins in the 10th with a 1-2-3 inning.
Toronto remained two games ahead of Tampa Bay for the top wild card in the American League. Minnesota’s lead in the AL Central shrank to one game after a win by Cleveland.
A similar scenario unfolded in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 8-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday; Pittsburgh’s Greg Allen initially was called out in the seventh — an inning that broke the game open for the Pirates — but upon review, catcher Robinson Chirinos was ruled to have violated the home plate collision rule, and Allen was called safe.
“The catcher’s initial setup completely in foul territory was illegal and he maintained that position without possession of the ball,” Major League Baseball said in a statement.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton said it was an easy decision to challenge the play.
“That’s probably about as confident as I’ve been on any challenge we’ve done,” Shelton said. “We didn’t even go to the phone.”
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was ejected after the call was overturned.
“I thought that Chirinos was in a good spot,” Hyde said. “Looking at the replay, too, it felt like his right foot was on the line, or on the foul side of the line, giving the runner a clear lane. The ball beat him.
“The throw from the left-field line takes him into the plate. I’m not sure what a catcher is supposed to do at that point. I guess it’s the backhand. I don’t agree with any of it. I don’t agree with the call.”
That run gave Pittsburgh a 5-1 lead. The ruling also kept the Pirates’ rally going after what would have been the third out of the inning.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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