he strange, chaotic, and contentious 13th inning of ALDS Game 3 between the Rays and the Red Sox.
The American League Division Series Game 3 between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox may have had one of the most bizarre finishes in playoff history.
The two sides had fought for more than five hours, with Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena of the Rays spearheading a rally in the eighth inning to push the game to extra innings.
From the 10th through the 12th, neither team could get anything going, but in the 13th, all hell broke loose.
We polled our MLB experts for their thoughts on the type of finish that fans would remember for years.
Dave Schoenfield — What the heck just happened?
Yandy Diaz was on first base with two outs and was running when Kevin Kiermaier lined a 3-2 slider from Nick Pivetta off the base of the low wall in front of the bullpens in right-center field in the top of the 13th inning of a game that would last 5 hours, 14 minutes and feature 16 pitchers and 389 pitches.
The ball bounced off Hunter Renfroe’s leg and over the wall into the bullpens.
Diaz was a stride away from third base and would have easily scored if the ball had stayed in play,
but after an umpire review, he was sent back to third base and Kiermaier was moved to second.
To stop the threat, Pivetta struck out Mike Zunino.
“Any fair fly ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over the fence into foul territory,
in which case the batter shall be entitled to second base; but if deflected into the stands,
or over the fence into fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run,
” says rule 5.05(a)(8) in the rulebook and 5.06(b)(4)(h) in the umpire’s manual.
That’s Jose Canseco’s legendary fly ball, which bounced off his head and over the fence for a home run.
Rule 5.05(a)(8) applies to Kiermaier’s hit, making it a ground-rule double.
Luis Patino walked Renfroe in the bottom of the 13th, and Christian Vazquez followed with a walk-off home drive over the Green Monster,
the sixth walk-off home run in playoff history in the 13th inning or later.
The Red Sox triumphed 6-4 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
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Jeff Passan — Why they got it right … but it still feels wrong
The review team deserves all of the credit for looking at the play, properly interpreting the rules, and enforcing them.
The ball bounced off the wall, ricochet off Renfroe, and sailed over the fence and into the bullpen, moving the runners up two bases.
Furthermore, there is a distinction between, for example, an outfielder receiving the ball cleanly and deliberately throwing it over the fence and the ball caroming off a person out of play,
according to the MLB umpiring handbook.
“The reward is two bases from the location of the runners at the moment the ball was booted or deflected,
” the handbook says if the fielder has “full possession.” Renfroe didn’t have control over the situation.
“The reward is two bases from the moment of the pitch,” the regulations state.
All of this to say: This seems bad, and it would feel much worse if the Rays were the ones who benefited from it. Renfroe fumbled the ball and it bounced against the wall.
Renfroe misread the bounce and it ricocheted off his body instead of being grabbed with his hand or glove.
In other words, the Red Sox was rewarded for doing his job poorly.
The solution to so many what-if questions may be found in MLB’s rules, but the game is the game.
It presents scenarios that even the most imaginative imagination could not imagine. And, no matter how hard it tries to be fair, there will always be flaws. On Sunday night, one of them appeared.
That’s possible it altered the outcome of Game 3 since the idea that everything would have gone the same way — that Vazquez’ two-run homer would have just won the game 6-5 — is nonsense.
And, in the end, it might be the difference between Tampa Bay and a trip to the AL Championship Series,
with the Red Sox leading the series two games to one and looking to wrap it up on Monday at Fenway Park.
Joon Lee — What they’re saying at Fenway
The Rays were visibly upset at the result of the play.
Kiermaier was clearly upset and described the situation as a “heartbreaker.” Manager Kevin Cash, for one, seemed uninterested in causing a fuss over the play,
citing the rules many times during his postgame press conference.
“I believe that would be a pretty simple decision if someone stepped in and said it was self-evident that he would score,” Cash added. “Saying that it’s been a rule for a long time,
and we’re going to play according to the regulations this season.”
Kiermaier said that he anticipated Diaz to score, but that he would defer to the rules.
“There are regulations in place, and I can’t sit here and break them,” Kiermaier said.
“It’s amazing that it all worked out in their favor so quickly.”
The moment was especially painful after Vazquez’s game-winning home run,
which sparked a raucous celebration at Fenway Park that included a helmet tossed in celebration into Boston’s brisk autumn sky,
multiple Gatorade tub dunks, and a confident Red Sox team ready to eliminate the American League East’s first-place finishers.
“We’re not fortunate,” Vazquez said.
“We played a terrific game,” Boston center fielder Enrique Hernandez said.
We took care of home-field advantage, which came our way,
by playing a solid game and playing the elements. We tried all we could to win the game.
“I’ve had a lot of huge hits and home runs.”
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