The Chicago White Sox won a battle against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, but the final blow might have been a little less than earned.
With two outs, a runner on second and the game tied 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth inning, White Sox rookie Zach Remillard hit a potential go-ahead single off Rangers reliever Grant Anderson. Elvin Andrus, the runner on second, raced home, but arrived too late to beat a throw from left-fielder Travis Jankowski to catcher Jonah Heim, who laid down the tag and got the inning-ending out.
You can see the video above, but what happened next is why we are here.
The White Sox challenged the play on the grounds and were shockingly successful, with the replay center giving Andrus the run on the grounds that Heim was blocking the plate. Further replay showed Heim had actually left the entire front of the plate open for Andrus to slide, with only his foot toward the back of the pentagon.
Rangers manager Bruce Bochy was livid as soon as the decision from MLB’s replay review center was announced, earning himself an ejection. Heim also looked both angry and perplexed.
Even the White Sox booth was astonished by the call, with color commentator Steve Stone saying “I have no idea why that was a violation.”
You can see another view of the play here:
White Sox closer Kendall Graveman proceeded to close out the 7-6 win with a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.
Rangers tear into call, while MLB tries to explain it
Bochy, predictably, had some strong words for the decision after the game.
“For that call to be made, I’m dumbfounded. It’s absolutely one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen and it was done by replay, I just don’t get it. I don’t care how many times they’ll try to explain it, you can’t do that in that situation. It’s a shame. It’s embarrassing, really.
“There was never any contact with the catcher. It was a sweet tag I don’t get it, I really don’t. Again, I’m shocked. Jonah did a great job there.”
The MLB replay center’s official explanation didn’t help much:
“The catcher’s initial positioning was illegal and his subsequent actions while not in possession of the ball hindered and impeded the runner’s path to home plate.”
It is legitimately difficult to even see what MLB’s argument is there. As you can see in the video above, Heim was standing with one foot on the right edge of home plate as the throw was made before moving to the left to field the ball, which he is allowed to do by MLB rules. At no point does he stand in front of home plate in a way that would stop Andrus from safely sliding.
As Heim indicated after the game, what he did was pretty much textbook:
“I set up like we were taught to set up, on the corner of the plate. Ball took me up the line, I even backed up a little bit. He had the whole front of the plate to slide in there, so I’m not really sure what else I need to do there, but it’s unfortunate that’s the decision they’re making.
“It seems like they want me to not catch the ball and not tag the guy out.”
Heim added that he didn’t get an answer when he asked the umpires what he did wrong, but then again, those weren’t the people who called Andrus safe. It was someone in New York.
The loss knocks the Rangers’ record down to 45-28, still first in the AL West. Their +150 run differential remains the best in MLB.