Baltimore Orioles: Did ol’ blue screw the Birds?

The sad thing is that John Means should have been the story for the Baltimore Orioles today. He may well have turned in his best outing as a starting pitching this afternoon in Arlington, TX. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K.

Perhaps his best outing as a started is a bit much – his Opening Day start was pretty good. But this one is right up there, needless to say. The Birds sent Means to the mound this afternoon with a chance to sweep in Texas. They were unable to do that, but due in no part to anything Means did or didn’t do. He was magnificent the entire time he was in the game.

One thing I did notice on twitter is that a lot of people were critical of Brandon Hyde‘s decision to pull Means after seven innings. I’ve at times criticized Hyde for pulling starters early – but in the fourth or fifth inning of games. Seven innings is a bit different, especially after 93 pitches. I think he was pulled at the appropriate moment. Hyde on Means’ outing (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I just thought he was in total command. I thought he had a great fastball that he was locating, thought he threw some really good curveballs, the changeup was there. Seven shutout innings, nine punchouts, pretty much says it all right there. Two really good starters that were on today. Pretty good baseball game. Two really good pitching performances by both sides

Unfortunately for the Birds, they couldn’t score either – as Hyde alluded in the above quote, two great pitching performances on both sides. The game went to extra innings at a scoreless tie. Maikel Franco was at third in the top of the tenth, and Trey Mancini sent a single to right field. Franco was thrown out at home plate by a country mile trying to score, as he held up at third thinking he’d have to tag up.

However Brandon Hyde argued Texas catcher Trevino blocked home plate without the ball, which is against the rules. Hyde was emphatic in demanding a replay review, but home plate umpire Sam Holbrook seemed to not want to explore the rule. He eventually huddled with the three other umpires, and the crew decided that nobody had seen any evidence of blocking the plate. Texas would eventually win 1-0 on an RBI-single by Lowe in the last of the tenth.

Rule 7.13 says: Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. My personal opinion is that Trevino was well into the path of the runner before the ball arrived. In the opinion of the umpiring crew, that wasn’t the case. But it appeared to be.

Sometimes you have to deal with calls like that in sports. But it sure can be a bitter pill to swallow. For the record, it’s also listed in the rule book as a judgement call. That means that the Orioles couldn’t have played under protest or anything like that. It’s also worth mentioning that Texas would have still gotten to hit in the bottom of the tenth, and they would have begun the inning with a runner on base. But that’s sometimes the way the ball bounces. Although it appeared to bounce in a way that gave Texas a break this afternoon.

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