Saturday at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers outlasted the Yankees in the second game of their three-game weekend interleague set (LAD 2, NYY 1). The Yankees loaded the bases with one out against Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning, but were unable to push across the tying run.
That ninth inning rally featured some controversy. With runners on first and second and one out, Gio Urshela hit what looked like a potential game-ending 5-4-3 double play ball to Justin Turner, but Brett Gardner broke it up with a slide into second base. The slide was clean -- Gardner slid right into the bag -- and, in fact, replays showed Gardner was safe because he beat the throw.
Gleyber Torres, the runner at second base to begin the play, scampered home from third to score the tying run after Max Muncy went down on the takeout slide. The Yankees had tied the game and Jansen had blown his third consecutive save opportunity. Or at least that's what everyone thought.
Long story short, replays showed Gardner beat the throw to second base, and Torres was sent back to third base because home plate umpire Gabe Morales called time. Replays showed Morales called time when Torres a little less than halfway to home plate. Here's the entire sequence of events:
The play at second base is not in question here. Replays make it clear Gardner not only slid directly into the bag, thus satisfying the second base collision safety rules, but that he also beat the throw and was safe on the play. The controversial play is Morales granting time as Torres was heading home.
"Gabe said he killed it," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the game. "Just looking back, Kenley held his hands up -- it looked to me Gleyber had already started down the line with a guy down on the field. Home plate umpire said he had killed it."
Here is the best angle of Torres running home and Jansen and Morales calling time:
Morales actually raised his hands to call time before Jansen raised his hands to ask for it, but I suppose Jansen could have requested time verbally (i.e yelling "TIME! TIME! TIME!" during the play) before raising his hands. Given the way he suddenly raised his hands once he saw Torres running, I'm not sure that's the case.
At best, Morales granted time very late. Muncy was down before Torres started home, and time was not granted until he was about halfway to the plate. Can you call time when an outfielder hits the wall and prevent the runner from taking an extra base? No, because the play is still live. Even when pitchers are hit by dangerous comebackers, the play is played to completion.
Boone on if the Yankees could protest: “We’ll certainly inquire with everyone and try to get a good explanation.”— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) August 24, 2019
It's too late to protest -- that has to happen immediately after the play and requires a rule being applied incorrectly, which didn't happen here -- and chances are MLB will not give a good explanation for the decision to grant time and send Torres back to third base given their recent history. They never give satisfactory explanations.
Gleyber Torres told reporters he was confused about being sent back to third base.— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) August 25, 2019
“I saw an opportunity to get a score, and I think it was a great decision,” Torres said. “But I don't know what's wrong with umpires today. We can't control that.
Of course, the Yankees had the bases loaded with one out following that chaotic play, and were unable to capitalize. Jansen struck out Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez to end the game. The Yankees still had an opportunity to tie the game and even take the lead following the controversial play, but were unable to take advantage.
The Yankees have had several run-ins with umpires recently, includingand , among other things.