Jul 2, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Home plate umpire Jerry Meals behind the plate as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sox Lose Meal(s) Ticket and First Place To Rays

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.

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  • Michael Macaulay-Birks

    as much as that call pissed me off, I have to give Meals credit for publicly admitting he blew the call…we move on, next game..

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  • Rick M

    For years I have watched the skills of umpiring deteriorate. I have never really been an ardent supporter of replay but enough is enough. The obvious calls are being blown far too frequently.

  • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

    I started umpiring when I was 8, so I have been at it for six decades. On plays at the plate, I move over to the 3rd base side of the plate and get on my knees; I can see the plate, the catcher, and the runner and that critical area where the tag and toe meet.
    Just like real estate, location, location, location.
    Kudos for the umpire admitting he did not get a good look, since he was in the worst “seat in the house” to make the call.’
    At the moment I am a proponent of replays for post-season games, when a season can turn on a single play; during the regular season, the bad calls will generally even out; recall that, since the introduction of the strike zone review by video, the home plate umps have been 97-99% correct on balls and strikes.

    • Rick M

      As far as even out, Earl, tell it to the KC fans. Been plenty of obvious calls missed in important games that were inexcusable. Add to that McClelland forgetting the rules a few years back.

      A few years ago ESPN did a study that stated 99% of the calls were correct but the data included everything from a called third strike to a ground out. What the needed to examine were the difficult calls.

  • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

    Kudos to the writer, a rabid Red Sox fan, for the fairness and evenness of this account of the play and the context.