Trea Turner didn’t know when he crossed first base in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs that he’d been called out.
He had struck out, but catcher Wilson Contreras missed a wild pitch. Turner made it to the bag ahead of an airmailed throw but was called out on a judgement play, one that that echoed a tense situation in Game 6 of the 2019 World Series.
Davey Martinez couldn’t believe it, anyway, and the Nats’ skipper made sure the umpiring crew and everyone else knew what he thought of the call, and home plate umpire Chris Conroy responded by ejecting him.
“Honestly, I am beside myself now with this whole out of the baseline thing. I really am. I think it’s awful,” said Martinez after the game. “He didn’t even run hard, and he made it to first base, and he’s going to come out and call him out?”
The Nats went on to win the game after closer Brad Hand held off a ninth-inning rally, just as they had rallied to win the Series after being down three games to two.
The Nats were leading 4-2 on Wednesday when Turner stepped up to lead off the seventh.
He swung at and missed a 1-2, four-seam fastball and momentarily acted as if he’d struck out before realizing that the ball had sailed on Contreras, so he took off for first.
Davey Martinez just lost it after Trea Turner was called out running to first base on a wild pitch strike three: pic.twitter.com/U3Iz0rtX6B— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) May 20, 2021
But the 96 mph pitch bounced hard off the backstop, and Contreras corralled it and threw with Turner running away from him toward first. The high throw sailed over first baseman PJ Higgins’ head and into right field.
Turner had already crossed the bag, but he didn’t bother to round and head for second.
First base umpire Pat Hoberg had called him out, ruling he had interfered with Higgins catching the ball by running straight down the line.
“If he’s going to make the call that I’m running, basically from when I’m out of the box, he’s already thinking about it,” said Turner after the game. “Why would I run down the line and run hard, and bust my tail for the team, when he’s just going to call me out regardless of where the ball goes?
“It comes down to a bad throw. If the guy makes a bad throw then you’re out,” he continued.
“So, he might as well just pick it up and throw it in the stands, and then the umpire gets to call you out.”
After crossing the bag, Turner paused, shook his head and started walking back to the dugout. He had a familiar feeling.
That's because he had been called out on a similar play in Game 6 of the 2019 World Series.
On a swinging bunt in front of the mound, Houston pitcher Brad Peacock fielded the ball and threw wildly to first base. That time, Turner thought he could go to second, but home plate umpire Sam Holbrook ruled Turner had interfered with first baseman Yuri Gurriel and kept him from catching the ball.
“Different play, different situation, but I guess familiar, I guess,” said Turner on Wednesday.
“I know they’re trying out there, and this and that, and they’re trying to do their job, but it’s terrible. It’s bad. And I think that was worse than Game 6.”
The World Series play earned an argument from Turner and an ejection from Martinez.
Randy Knorr has seen it all before... pic.twitter.com/5BzYJXjrfi— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) May 20, 2021
This time, Martinez knew he had seen enough already and ran out onto the field against home plate umpire Chris Conroy’s warning. The moment Martinez crossed the first base line, Conroy gave him the thumb.
That’s when the fun started.
“I’m going to argue 1,000 times when that happens,” said Martinez. “I really am. I’m sick of it. You guys saw it. It’s a brutal call. And I’m done hiding it. I really am.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do about it, but it’s awful. And it wasn’t just today, I’ve seen it go on and on and on. And they need to do something about it. They need to do something about that.”
Martinez offered his impression of what Turner had done, running along the first base line and tagging first base.
“Where do you run?” Martinez asked. “You’re rewarding the pitcher for throwing a passed ball, the catcher for getting a passed ball, and then he throws the ball behind the runner, and you reward them by giving them an out?
“I mean, I can see if Trea was running on the grass, or really inside the line, but you guys saw it.
“I thought he actually stepped on the line. So, I mean, that’s a huge, huge play for us with Trea being on first base.”
After exchanging more words with Conroy, Martinez pulled the base out of its mount and threw it into foul territory. He had a few more words for the ump before departing.
“I love somebody else yelling at them sometimes and letting them have it,” said Turner when asked if he was glad his manager had his back.
“I know he doesn’t want to get thrown out necessarily, but I think it’s important to share that. You know what happened and it’s not right.
“And it’s important that we get the calls right, because that could have been the difference in the game.
“I love when our coaching staff gets fired up, because we’re all in this together.”
“We keep seeing this play happen over and over and over and this rule — something has got to give here,” Max Scherzer said after his outing in Wrigley.
“You can’t tell me that somehow the batter should be out because he’s running right towards the base. I get if he’s running on the grass, yeah, that’s pretty easy, but when you’re running right down the line, you can’t be rewarding the defense in that situation.
“MLB has got to look at this. I understand that umpires have a job and they’re probably instructed to call him out in that situation, but that’s not baseball. This happened to Trea now I think three times. Somebody’s got to fix it. That doesn’t pass the eye test.”