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Ump Bob Davidson screws up in Cards-Marlins game

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Bob DavidsonOn Monday night in Miami, the Cardinals, despite trailing 6-1 to start the eighth and 6-2 to start the ninth, rallied to tie the game and then win it in the 10th. The unlikely comeback (on two different occasions, St. Louis' chances of winning the game dipped to 1.2%), however, was nothing compared to the umpiring of Bob Davidson.

In the home half of the ninth, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, in attempting to double-switch reliever Victor Marte into the game and in David Freese's spot in the lineup, signaled "five", referring to Freese's defensive position (third base). So Marte entered the game in Freese's seventh spot in the order, Daniel Descalso slid over from second base to third and Tyler Greene entered that game at second and batting ninth in the pitcher's spot.

After Hanley Ramirez singled off Marte, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen emerged from the dugout and began a lengthy discussion with home-plate umpire Bob Davidson. (As you'll soon see, Guillen's decision to wait until after Ramirez's AB to air his grievances was pretty smart.)

Guillen argued that Matheny's "five" gesture was referring to the fifth spot in the batting order, which belonged to Allen Craig and not, as Matheny intended and Davidson initially understood, to Freese's numerical defensive position (third base is, of course, "5" in scorekeeping shorthand). For reasons sufficient unto himself, Davidson decided to agree with Guillen's interpretation of Matheny's gesture. Matheny mounted a counterargument, but to no avail.

The upshot was that the presumed occupier of the fifth spot in the batting order, first baseman Allen Craig, was forced to leave the game (backup catcher Tony Cruz replaced him). As well, since a plate appearance had already occurred after Freese departed, he was unable to reenter the game. That left the Cardinals to play out a tie game without two of their best hitters in the lineup.

As all this was unfolding, the suspicion on Twitter was that the rookie skipper Matheny, who, famously, had not managed at any level before taking over the reigning champs, had screwed up the double-switch -- the most complicated arrow in the NL manager's quiver. Subsequent events, though, revealed it to be Davidson's error.

After the game, FOXSports Midwest played on-field audio of Davidson's saying to Guillen during their discussion, "I f****ed up, Ozzie. He told me seven."

"He" would be Matheny, and "seven" would be Freese's position in batting order, where Matheny intended to double-switch Marte. "Inexplicable" would be a way to characterize Davidson's handling of the entire affair.

Anyhow, in the 10th, Marte, according to script, came up to bat in Craig's spot, and Matheny was forced to pinch-hit a pitcher, Joe Kelly, who promptly singled in a critical insurance run.

The Cardinals wound up hanging on for an 8-7 victory, but Davidson's puzzling screw-up certainly could've altered the outcome.

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