Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays contest was an important one, as the two teams head into the contest locked with one another for second place in the AL East.
But the game at Tampa Bay brought some additional late unexpected drama when the Rays pulled an interesting maneuver with their lineup that left many -- including Red Sox manager Alex Cora and the umpiring crew -- a little confused.
With Boston down by a run and heading into the eighth inning with a lefty-righty-lefty sequence of hitters due up at the plate, the Rays sent lefty specialist Adam Kolarek to the mound to start the inning. After getting the first batter out, Rays manager Kevin Cash proceeded to make a lineup change, putting Kolarek at first base and bringing right-hander Chaz Roe into the game to face Mookie Betts.
After Roe got Betts to fly out, Cash moved Kolarek back to the mound to face the left-handed Rafael Devers, who grounded out on the first pitch. Roe was then moved to first base and immediately replaced by Brandon Lowe.
Rays doing the stuff the Rays need to do, and do well: lefty Adam Kolarek gets an out, moves to first base when a right-hander is called on to face Mookie Betts, and now Kolarek returns to the mound to pitch to Devers. Alex Cora asking umps about lineup issue.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 24, 2019
The savvy but rare maneuver left the officiating crew perplexed and Cora upset. However, Cash seemingly operated within the rulebook. The MLB guidelines say that a pitcher can be moved from the mound to a defensive position as long as the team's designated hitter lineup spot is eliminated for the remainder of the game.
Still, the situation led to a lengthy delay as the umpiring crew tried to sort things out and offer an explanation to Cora. According to umpire Angel Hernandez, there was a lack of communication between Cash and the crew that led to the delay.
From pool reporter: Angel Hernandez said that Cash never specified where Kolarek would hit when moved to first base. He said there is rule that states in such a case it is umpire's discretion to place hitter in spot in lineup.— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) July 24, 2019
The entire ordeal resulted in just one pitch being thrown in 23 minutes of real time. The game eventually resumed, but the Red Sox officially played under protest.
Announcement: Protest is due to the placement of the substitutes in the lineup following the removal of the DH. (Hope that clears it up)— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) July 24, 2019
It should be noted that this isn't the first time Cash and the Rays have executed such a maneuver. They've done it multiple times this year as well as last season.
Ultimately, the Rays held on for the 3-2 win and reclaimed sole possession of second place in the division.