Baltimore Orioles: Did the Birds get hoodwinked on a rule?

First off, the Baltimore Orioles gave up four home runs last night to New York. It’s tough to argue that you lost because of a bad call in a situation like that. However there was a play at the plate of involving the O’s in the last of the fifth, and the runner was called out. The Birds challenged, and the call was upheld. But was that the correct call?

Dan Straily struggled once again, although this time he struggled against a lineup that’s taking right now. New York was raking when they came into the series, and it.’a continued. Straily’s line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

New York smacked two separate two/m-run homers in the second inning, putting the Birds in an early 4-0 hole. Torres also smacked his ninth homer against the Orioles this year in the third, running the score to 5-0. Only two of Torres’ homers this year have come against a team other than the Orioles. The way he hits Orioles’ pitching is uncanny.

Hanser Alberto would get the Orioles on the board in the last of the third with an RBI-double. However NY would come back an inning later with another home run, this time by Sanchez. Not to mention Torres’ tenth homer against the O’s later in the game.

However the Birds would start a rally in the last of the fourth when Joey Rickard reached on a fielder’s choice. However New York fumbled the ball around the infield, allowing a run to score. One inning later, Richie Martin‘s solo homer cut the lead to 7-3. Later in the inning Renato Nunez smacked a two-run shot, and the O’s were within two at 7-5.

However it was the end of that fifth inning that leaves me with questions. Joey Rickard doubled, and Pedro Severino was sent home to try to score – from first base. It was always going to be a close play, and I do question the decision to send him. Better to continue the inning with two runners in scoring position (and two outs) than have the runner cut down at the plate, abruptly ending the inning and cooling a rally. No need to take an unnecessary risk.

But they sent Severino. He was thrown out at home plate. But the question is whether or. It NY catcher Sánchez blocked the plate. The Orioles challenged the play, and it was upheld under review. End of story, right?

Again, when you surrender four home runs it’s tough to look at one call and say that played a role. Similarly, when you went 2-for-8 with RISP it’s tough to point at one call or one play and say that played a role in the loss. But…did the Birds suffer an incorrect call on that play?

MLB rule 7.13 clearly states that a catcher may block the plate only if he has the ball. Sanchez clearly blocked the plate, and he did have the ball – eventually. But there was about one second as Severino was coming in where he was also blocking the plate while waiting to receive the ball. In accordance with the rule and how it’s written, the Orioles has a very legitimate case.

And keep in mind, if that’s called correctly the Birds would have trailed by one and the fifth inning would have still be going on. Instead they trailed by two, and the inning was over. You never know how things would have turned out – certainly it’s possible that New York could have extended their lead had things been different. We just don’t know.

My personal view is that the umpires blew that call. Again, a million things happen in games that can sway them – it would be wrong to say that specific thing led to the Orioles losing. Unequivocally, that would be an inaccurate statement. But if we’re talking about the rules as they’re written, the Orioles were seemingly legislated out of a further rally with that call being blown.

The series concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Masahiro Tanaka. Game time is set for just after 12:30 PM.

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