Aníbal Sánchez’s spot in the order was due up third in the seventh, and he’d thrown 89 total pitches, retiring 20 straight Los Angeles Dodgers’ hitters in succession after giving up a run in the first.
Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez hit for his pitcher, after back-to-back singles by Brian Dozier and Victor Robles, and got the tying run on a bases-loaded liner to left field by Adam Eaton that made 1-1, following an 11-pitch battle.
Gerardo Parra, who’d reached on an error on a bunt after the hits by Dozier and Robles, and moved to second base on a force at home on a grounder by Trea Turner, was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning trying to score on Eaton’s single on a controversial call.
Alex Verdugo made a strong throw in from left, and veteran Dodgers’ catcher Russell Martin straddled the plate after receiving it, so Parra tried to go in standing up, and he was tagged out.
The call at home was reviewed by the umpires, but upheld, with the umpires explaining that if Parra had tried to slide, he might have been called safe.
“Honestly,” Martinez said after settling for one run in the seventh in what ended up a 4-2 loss, “Martin blocked the plate. [Parra] didn’t know what to do.
“He was right in front of home plate. We challenged the fact that he was in front of home plate.
“The rule, apparently, states that if he would have slid they might have called him safe, but he didn’t know where to slide. [Martin] was in front of home plate. It’s something that I don’t understand, because in reality his first [thought] was to knock him over, and he didn’t know what to do. He tried to step around him, and so that’s why I came out and we challenged.
“They came back, and [Home Plate umpire Brian O’Nora] gave me an explanation, if he were to slide, they probably would have overturned it, he would have been safe, but you don’t know that, how do you slide when the guy is blocking the plate?”
[ed. note - “Do you want to read the official rule on collisions at home at this point? “MLB 2019 Official Baseball Rules - Rule 6.01(i) 72 (i) Collisions at Home Plate (1) A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher, or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision. If, in the judgment of the umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher in such a manner, the umpire shall declare the runner out (regardless of whether the catcher maintains possession of the ball). In such circumstances, the umpire shall call the ball dead, and all other base runners shall return to the last base touched at the time of the collision. If the runner slides into the plate in an appropriate manner, he shall not be adjudged to have violated Rule 6.01(i).
“Rule 6.01(i)(1) Comment: The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 6.01(i), or otherwise initiated a collision that could have been avoided. A slide shall be deemed appropriate, in the case of a feet first slide, if the runner’s buttocks and legs should hit the ground before contact with the catcher. In the case of a head first slide, a runner shall be deemed to have slid appropriately if his body should hit the ground before contact with the catcher. If a catcher blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall not find that the runner initiated an avoidable collision in violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(1).
“(2) 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. Not withstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder). In addition, a catcher without possession of the ball shall not be adjudged to violate this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the runner could have avoided the collision with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) by sliding.
“Rule 6.01(i)(2) Comment: A catcher shall not be deemed to have violated Rule 6.01(i)(2) unless he has both blocked the plate without possession the ball (or when not in a legitimate attempt to field the throw), and also hindered or impeded the progress of the runner attempting to score. A catcher shall not be deemed to have hindered or impeded the progress of the runner if, in the judgment of the umpire, the runner would have been called out notwithstanding the catcher having blocked the plate. In addition, a catcher should use best efforts to avoid unnecessary and forcible contact while tagging a runner attempting to slide. Catchers who routinely make unnecessary and forcible contact with a runner attempting to slide (e.g., by initiating contact using a knee, shin guard, elbow or forearm) may be subject to discipline by the League President. All references to “the catcher” in this Rule 6.01(i) shall apply equally to other players covering home plate. In addition, Rule 6.01(i)(2) shall not apply to force plays at home plate.
So, a reporter asked, “What’s the difference between sliding and running across the plate?”
“This is what Brian O’Nora told me and this is the feedback he got from New York, so it’s a good question,” Martinez said.
MLB's official explanation of the Parra/Martin play at the plate in the 7th inning of last night's game:— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) July 27, 2019
"After viewing all relevant angles, the Replay Official definitively determined that no violation of the Home Plate Collision Rule occurred. (cont.) ...
... (cont.) "The catcher's initial setup was legal, and he moved in reaction to the trajectory of the throw. Additionally, the catcher is not at risk for violating OBR 6.01(i)(2) unless the runner slides. The call is CONFIRMED, it is not a violation."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) July 27, 2019
After settling for one run in the seventh, the Nationals gave up three in the top of the eighth inning.
Javy Guerra retired the first two batters he faced, so Martinez went to left-hander Tony Sipp with two lefties, (Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo), due up, but Sipp walked Pederson and a single by Verdugo extended the inning, and Kyle Barraclough, who returned from Double-A Harrisburg before the game, came on and fell behind 3-1 on Justin Turner and gave up a big three-run home run on a fastball up in the zone.
It was another rough outing for Barraclough, who put up a 6.39 ERA, a 6.10 FIP, 12 walks (4.26 BB/9) and 30 Ks (10.66 K/9) in 32 games and 25 1⁄3 IP before he ended up on the 10-Day Injured List on June 16th with what a press release on the issue described as “right radial nerve irritation.”
Barraclough got up 0-1 on Turner when the batter fouled off a fastball, threw the second pitch to the backstop, and then, after two consecutive balls, gave up the home run on a fastball up and over the middle of the plate inside.
Martinez’s club scored a run in the ninth, but fell 4-2 in the series opener with the Dodgers.
“Guerra came in and got two outs,” he said in discussing the bullpen’s latest misstep.
“Let him face [left-handed hitter Matt] Beaty to keep Sipp from facing too many guys. We thought at that point they might just go with [Tyler] White. So, he got two big outs for us and Sipp for Pederson I kind of liked a lot.
“He walked him, next guy got a hit, ground ball hit, and then I liked Barraclough on Turner, but when you fall behind on a good hitter, 3-1, and you’ve got to throw a fastball, you see where it goes.”
“Miss up and in to a guy that likes the ball up there, and obviously after the first couple pitches that I threw up there he’s just looking for it,” Barraclough told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “So I just got to execute better.”
“I think at this point it’s a confidence issue,” Martinez said of Barraclough’s struggles.
“He threw the ball by Turner at 96 and then all of a sudden he threw one to the backstop and I could see a little bit of hesitation, and then all of a sudden he couldn’t locate his fastball. Even the last pitch was up, but it was right down the middle. So he’s just got to get confidence. He’s got to come back with confidence, because his velo was good. So, I thought he might throw a slider or two, but he stuck with the fastball, just couldn’t get ahead.”
What sort of hesitation did he see?
“When he threw that ball in, I watched his reaction,” Martinez said, “and he had a little bit of a pause, like a, you know, and then after that he threw two balls again and then he got to 3-1.”