Baltimore Orioles: Controversy mars Birds’ loss

Spencer Watkins’ start for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon in the series final at Camden Yards didn’t go quite according to plan. The second time through the order seemed to be his bugaboo, as Pittsburgh hitters figured him out. Watkins’ line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead on Jorge Mateo’s solo homer in the third. However Allen’s RBI-single in the fifth tied the game at one. Mitchell singled a second run home later in the inning, and Pittsburg held a 2-1 lead. After an RBI-groundout, that was extended to 3-1.

Following a fourth run being tacked on, the Birds trailed 4-1 in the seventh. To be clear, it’s tough to argue that you got screwed by the umpires when you only put across one run. But this game will go down as one that did feature controversy, and almost predictably it went against the O’s.

Newman hit an infield single which smacked off of Mateo’s glove and trickled away. Allen was at third and he tried to score. And he was thrown out at home plate – the ball beat the runner to the plate by a country mile.

Pittsburgh challenged the call, citing the rule stating you can’t block home plate. The umpires reviewed the play, and ruled that catcher Robinson Chirinos had in fact violated the rule. The runner was ruled safe at home, and Pittsburgh led 5-1. They would tack on three more, including two on a two/l-run homer by Hayes, to close out an 8-1 win.

The Orioles took two-of-three in this series, so that’s not a bad weekend with Pittsburgh at all. However that was a tough call on the reversal. Crew Chief Rob Kulpa told Brandon Hyde not to come out of the dugout and argue the reversal. He did, and was promptly ejected. And Hyde was LIVID.

Major League Baseball released a statement before the game even ended regarding the call:

The catcher’s initial setup completely in foul territory was illegal and he maintained that position without possession of the ball.

I suppose my question is what exactly is Robinson Chirinos supposed to do there? It was a bang-bang play for sure, however maybe the league needs to review this rule and amend it. Mind you, the ball beat the runner by a long shot. In seeing the play, one could hardly argue that Chirinos impeded the ability of the runner to touch home plate.

The Orioles open a three-game set tomorrow night against Toronto. Jordan Lyles gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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