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Controversial calls bookend Guardians' 4-3 loss to Tigers

92.3 The Fan
92.3 The Fan
 2022-08-17

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) - It was in the top half of the opening frame of a Tuesday night matchup between the Cleveland Guardians and the Detroit Tigers. With two outs and a runner on second, shortstop Mike Freeman fielded a wayward ground ball and threw home to seemingly nail baserunner Javier Baez for the third and final out of the inning.

Only, the Tigers challenged that Guardians catcher Austin Hedges had blocked the plate.

The call was replayed and reversed, leading to a Kerry Carpenter 2-run home run, a 3-run inning for Detroit, and an eventual 4-3 Tigers victory over the Guardians at Progressive Field.

Zach Plesac dropped to 2-11 in another frustrating outing, in which the right-hander allowed nine hits and four earned runs while striking out three and walking three over 5.1 innings. Plesac spoke after the game about the reversed call at home, which would have gotten the Guardians out of the inning with no runs allowed.

"We got the third out. It was clear...I don't understand how it was interference if he touched the plate. Usually interference means he blocked him from touching the plate."

MLB rules that a catcher " is not permitted to block the runner's path to the plate unless he is in possession of the ball, though blocking the path of the runner in a legitimate attempt to receive a throw is not considered a violation. The runner can be ruled safe if the umpire determines the catcher violated this rule. " Per a September 2014 referendum, "the runner may still be called out if he was clearly beaten by the throw."

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Aug 16, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez (28) scores beside Cleveland Guardians catcher Austin Hedges (17) in the first inning at Progressive Field. Photo credit © David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Plesac's batterymate Hedges had strong words for the call and ruling after the contest:

"First of all, it cost the game. The play has been called a few times now recently that really has never been called before. For some reason, [the league offices in] New York feels like they need to take over the game and change the way the game is played. Guys are just out. There are plays at home that are beating the runners and for 150 years, you're out. And now, we're calling some type of rule that is really tricky to define. And to be able to take the game into their own hands that way and to - first of all, that cost one run automatically and then what ended up (transpiring). Honestly, it's a disgrace. It's embarrassing. I think New York owes Zach Plesac, specifically, an apology, because they took the game out of his hands.

Hedges would later add: "It's too bad when we play a sport where we get held accountable. When we say something, we get held accountable. We get mocked. We get shamed. There's no accountability on their part right now. And that's really, really sad. I don't know why. But there needs to be a little bit of - we talk about equality in this world right now. There ain't no equality with that. These guys are going out there with no responsibilities. They say, 'Okay, here's a play where I can show my power. Here's a play where I can take over the game.' And that's not the game that we play. That's not the game that we've played forever. They're trying to take over the game and they're trying to change the game and it's disappointing. For a team that goes out there and fights every single night to win every game, for it to cost us a game when we're trying to win a division, we're trying to make the playoffs, we're trying to do something special, and for it to be taken out of our hands like that is a disgrace and it's extremely disappointing."

After the call overturn, Plesac would allow a 2-run home run to Kerry Carpenter to make it 3-0 Tigers after the opening frame, but the Guardians would scratch one back on a fielder's choice.

In the top of the 3rd, Hector Castro roped an RBI double to make it 4-1 Tigers, and the score would remain that way until the 7th inning, when Freeman scored on a Myles Straw grounder to make it 4-2.

Cleveland would close the gap to 4-3 on an 8th inning Jose Ramirez RBI single - his 95th run batted in on the season - but the Guardians, who were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, could not tie the game in the frame.

In the bottom of the 9th, more chaos ensued.

With one out and a runner on third, Straw swung at a low 2-strike pitch that initially looked to have been called foul - at least, according to Cleveland manager Terry Francona.

"I thought he called 'foul ball', and that's what I was arguing because I can't imagine they could overturn it from where they were. But I guess what they overturned was that he caught the ball."

Francona would protest the ruling and be ejected by home plate umpire Lance Barksdale, as the Tigers would close the game one batter later.

The Guardians' series finale with the Tigers comes Wednesday night at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, with Cal Quantrill (9-5, 3.67 earned run average) slated to face Detroit lefty Daniel Norris (11-4, 5.97 ERA).

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