The Tampa Bay Rays have been the hottest team in baseball lately, and they took first place in the AL East on Monday thanks to a blown call by umpire Jerry Meals.
Daniel Nava was called out at home for an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the eighth when he was trying to tag up and score on a fly ball to left field. Boston Red Sox third baseman Brandon Snyder drove a fly ball to left-center with one out and men on second and third, and Nava, who was pinch-running, appeared to beat Sam Fuld’s throw home. Replays showed that Nava’s foot touched the plate before catcher Jose Molina applied a tag, but Meals missed the call.
Instead of Nava being credited with the tying run, the Sox remained down 2-1 and lost by that score.
After the game, Meals saw a replay and admitted his mistake.
“What I saw was: Molina blocked the plate and Nava’s foot lifted,” Meals said, via MLB.com. “But in the replays, you could clearly see Nava’s foot got under for a split second and then lifted, so I was wrong on my decision. From the angle I had, I did not see his foot get under Molina’s shin guard.”
Do we need any more reason for instant replay? I doubt Meals’ admission will be much of a consolation for Sox manager John Farrell, who was ejected for arguing the call.
The Rays have now won 18 of their last 21 and are in first in the division by a half-game over the Red Sox.
Here’s a close-up look at the play that shows Nava beat the tag: