While the call didn’t decide the game it certainly cost the Red Sox the opportunity to tie or win their game last night against the Tampa Bay Rays. What would have been a tie that set the stage for a possible win for the Sox to preserve their slim first place lead over the Rays in the AL East turned into a loss that caused Boston and Tampa Bay to exchange places in the standings for the second time in two days.
With two outs in the eighth inning at Fenway Park Monday night, Daniel Nava tagged up on a fly ball to left fielder Sam Fuld and broke for the plate. Rays catcher Jose Molina set up to receive the throw while Nava prepared for his slide into home plate. It was a bang, bang play. Umpire Jerry Meals, clearly out of position as evidenced by this video, got stuck behind Rays catcher Jose Molina and as Nava slides into home plate he’s craning his neck to see around Molina’s back. He never got a good look, incorrectly calling Nava out.
Nava, usually very reserved, threw down his helmet and argued the call – let’s just say – vigorously. Manager John Farrell raced out of the dugout and took less than a minute for Meals to ejected him.
To be clear, there were a number of plays that added up to the Red Sox loss. Nava not scoring from second on a Shane Victorino double just before the call at the plate and Mike Napoli striking our for the 136th time this season with men on second and third in the bottom of ninth with the Sox down 2-1 were also key missed opportunities. Had Meals got it right, however, Boston would have at least been tied with the Rays going into the ninth inning.
After the game Meals said, “What I saw was: Molina blocked the plate and Nava’s foot lifted. 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.”
Sure hope the Sox don’t miss the playoffs by one game.