With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday afternoon, Avisail Garcia led off the Tigers against the Red Sox with a deep fly ball to right field, and Daniel Nava was ruled to have committed an error when he dropped the ball.
The problem is that it appeared Nava secured the ball and dropped it on the transfer to his throwing hand. Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected while arguing the call, and the Tigers went on to score three runs that inning, leading to a 7-5 victory.
Here's the visual:
Here is the MLB definition of a catch, from the rule book (emphasis mine, on the important parts of the rule here):
A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball. It is not a catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.
So the argument comes down to when Nava dropped the ball. Was he yet in the act of making a throw? Did he hold the ball "long enough to prove that he ha(d) complete control of the ball?" Those are the questions that matter.
Second base umpire Mike DiMuro made the call, and his crew chief got his back after the game:
"To have a catch, you have to have complete control and voluntary release," crew chief Ted Barrett said (bostonherald.com). "Mike had him with control but did not have the voluntary release. When he flipped the ball out of his glove, he never got it into his hand. That's not voluntary release."
Farrell still disagrees, as he said, "Clearly, the call was missed," after the game.
Regardless, Farrell was ejected for the first time this season and the Tigers got the win.