Alex Cora felt like Rays made ‘illegal substitutions’
Wednesday’s Tampa Bay Rays-Boston Red Sox game was held up by about 20 minutes during the eighth inning due to some unusual maneuvers by the Rays that had the umpires and Red Sox confused, leaving Red Sox manager Alex Cora believing some “illegal substitutions” were made.
Here’s what happened.
Tampa Bay was leading 3-2 and removed starting pitcher Charlie Morton after seven innings. They began the top of the eighth with lefty Adam Kolarek set to face lefty Jackie Bradley Jr. Boston pinch hit for Bradley with right-handed batter Sam Travis, who popped out. Kolarek was the pitcher and the Rays had Austin Meadows DHing in the third spot at that point.
The Rays wanted Chaz Roe to pitch to the next batter, Mookie Betts, but they wanted to keep Kolarek in the game to face the third batter of the inning — lefty Rafael Devers. So they brought Roe into the game for first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who was batting in the ninth spot. Kolarek moved over to play first base for the at-bat so he could remain in the game.
Due to MLB rules, the Rays lost the DH because they had their pitcher play a defensive position. At that point you had Roe in the ninth spot and then Kolarek in the three spot because they had lost the DH. Then after Roe pitched, Kolarek moved back to pitcher (still in the third spot in the batting order), while Lowe took Roe’s place ninth in the lineup. Kolarek got Devers out and was later replaced by pinch-hitter Willy Adames.
The Rays played things perfectly fine, but Cora took issue with everything, thinking “illegal substitutions” were made.
"We felt like they made some illegal substitutions. It was a mess."
-Alex Cora on the 19-minute delay and #RedSox protest of the game.
— Tom Caron (@TomCaron) July 24, 2019
Adding to the confusion, it seems like umpire Angel Hernandez did not have a strong enough grasp on things to explain to Cora what was happening.
From pool reporter: Angel Hernandez said that Cash never specified where Kolarek would hit when moved to first base. He said there is rule that states in such a case it is umpire's discretion to place hitter in spot in lineup.
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) July 24, 2019
Either Alex Cora did not understand the rules; the umpires did not understand the rules and therefore could not properly explain things to Cora; or there was some combination of the two.
The bottom line is the end result was correct and the Rays and umpires did nothing wrong. That didn’t stop the Red Sox from playing under protest, however.