Royal Re-Gifting: KC Scores Run on Error, Gives It Back on Bigger Error

Published on 21-Sep-2014 by J Square Humboldt
MLB / MLB Daily Update

 ... Me or your own eyes?

Baseball's first ever non-official instant replay made its debut in Kansas City yesterday.

If the Royals miss the division crown or the entire playoff field by one game, it'll be a reason they'll have nightmares all winter.

Kansas City squandered a solid start from Big Game James Shields, losing 3-2 to the Detroit Tigers due to a few dubious strategic decisions and one strange play that happened in the pivotal sixth inning. It started with deep-bench reserve Hernán Pérez telling Tiger manager Brad Ausmus he noticed something during this play:

Here's what happened:

  • The TV announcers didn't notice it, but Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer did the done thing to appeal by first toeing the rubber, then stepping off, and throwing to third.
  • The umpire there re-affirmed his safe call, which he had to do because he didn't notice otherwise.
  • Ausmus then asked for an official review.
  • But the replay officials in New York informed the umpires that the situation at third base was not reviewable.
  • So the umpires met again to make a decision.
  • Initially, of course, they were prepared to rule the runner at third had indeed scored.
  • But, assuming the replay officials in New York were viewing the replay angles, the Kansas City press box ran them on the stadium screens for everyone in the ballpark to see.
  • The umpires not on the headsets were watching the big screen and saw the runner at third failed to go back and tag; the crowd's groan made that fact obvious.
  • So, when the umpires re-convened -- and with the benefit of viewing the replay on the stadium screens -- they rang up the runner for a double play.
  • Inning over; no score.

Turned out to be a precious run. Had it counted, the Royals and Tigers could still be playing. Kansas City could well have won and clawed back to within a half-game of the AL Central lead.

The bizarre proceedings, though, should have been an afterthought. Someone should tell Royals manager Ned Yost that the sabremetric geeks have debunked bunting as a percentage play. Twice, he told his hottest hitter -- Norachika Aoki -- to give up his AB and lay one down. Scherzer gave him nothing to put down, so two outs were wasted.

Unless Detroit collapses in the next 10 days, Kansas City is left to duke it out with Oakland and Seattle for the American League's two wild-card spots. If the Royals are the odd team out, they only have their inattention to detail to blame.

That, and a premature viewing of an instant replay that shouldn't have been.

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