The first no-hitter of the 2018 season was thrown Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum. Athletics left-hander Sean Manaea no-hit the Red Sox -- they were an MLB best 17-2 going into the game -- with shocking ease (OAK 3, BOS 0). .
The no-hitter did not come controversy free, however. Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi beat out an infield single on a weak grounder toward first base in the sixth inning, but after the umpires got together and talked things out, they determined he went out of the base path to avoid Matt Olson's tag.
Here's video of the play:
Benintendi was not happy. Not happy with the call on the field and not happy after the game either. He told reporters he thinks the umpires called him out because they were looking for a reason to keep Manaea's no-hitter intact.
Benintendi: "I think if we have 10 hits at that point, that’s a single. But the situation the game was in, they might have been searching for something and they found it.”— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) April 22, 2018
Crew chief Brian Gorman, who was manning third base Saturday night, gave a pointed explanation after the game. (As crew chief, he's tasked with explaining the decision to reporters even though it did not occur at his base.)
That dirt lane? That's three feet wide and Benintendi is clearly outside it. However, the foul line is not the base path. The runner establishes his own base path. Rule 5.09(b)(1) states:
"A runner's base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely."
Vague! The play happened very quickly. Olson scooped the ball and made the swipe tag in one motion.
Here's a look at the play. On the right is Benintendi at the moment Olson begins the swipe -- and thus the point he established his base path -- and on the left is Benintendi at his farthest outside the base path:
Is that 3 feet? Ehh, it's close. That's a judgment call and it's not reviewable. Only black and white plays are reviewable. Fair or foul, safe or out, that sort of stuff.
Leaving the base path is a judgment call. The umpires can get together and talk about it, though, which they did in this case. And the four umpires determined Benintendi went too far outside the base path, hence the out call.
I get Benintendi's frustration with the play. He made a nice slide to avoid the tag and wasn't rewarded. Also, that would've ended the no-hitter, and getting no-hit kind of stinks. That said, I don't think the umpires were looking to keep the no-hitter alive there.. Umpires tend to be the book.