The Red Sox made history tonight by being the first major-league club to come back from a three games to none deficit to reach the seventh game of a series. They beat the Yankees 4-2, but the score resulted from two conferences among the umpires both of which overturned the initial ruling on the field and both of which went against the Yankees. It ended up getting pretty ugly as enraged fans threw baseballs (where's security anyway?) and general debris on the field momentarily suspending play.
If both calls had stood, by the way, the game would have ended after nine innings in a 3-3 tie. Here is a quick overview of the two because it's late:
The Revenge of Tony Tarasco
In a moment that recalled Jeffrey "I Got It" Maier, Mark Bellhorn hit a ball into the stands that bounced off a fan's hands. This was apparent in the replays. The ball's trajectory changed as a fan in a black shirt reached to catch it.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. It was the top of the fourth with no score and two outs. Kevin Millar hit a double to left and then scored the first run on a Varitek single. After a Cabrera single, it was first and second with Mark Bellhorn, who was having a tough series, at the plate. He hit a ball to left that was initially called an automatic double scoring two runs by umpire Jim Joyce. The score was 3-0 at that point. The umps conferred and changed it to a three-run homer, 4-0 Boston. (By the way, the postgame conference with Randy Marsh disclosed that every other ump thought the ball went over the wall).
This one was clearly correct. The replay showed that the fan attempted to catch the ball and did not in anyway lean over like Maier to interfere.
With the Yankees trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth and Curt Schilling replaced by Bronson Arroyo, Miguel Cairo, the Yanks offensive "star" tonight, hit a one-out double to right. Jeter followed with a clutch single to score him, 4-2. Next was Alex Rodriguez, who grounded to the right side. Bronson Arroyo fielded the ball and attempted to tag A-Rod out. It appeared that he dropped the ball, A-Rod was safe and Jeter scored. The Yankees trailed by one with a runner at first, one out, and a pitcher who was losing control on the game.
The ump who made the safe call was Randy Marsh, who was clearly blocked on the play by first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. The replay showed that A-Rod went out of his way to slap the ball out of the pitcher's glove. According to the rules the rules the only thing that applies is the definition for intereference:
2.00 Definition of Terms
(a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided by these rules. In the event the batter runner has not reached first base, all runners shall return to the base last occupied at the time of the pitch.
That leaves a lot up to interpretation. Runners trying to score do much more to dislodge the ball from a catcher's mitt and it's all legal. Alex Ciepley informs me that the postgame news conference with Randy Marsh alluded to double-secret supplement that is only supplied to umps that specifically deals with this type of play. However, I don't see anything about it the Major League Baseball site, nor does their excerpt from the Marsh conference include this reference. More investigation is needed. I do have to say that the idea of play intuitively seems like interference.
So that's it. Two controversial plays became the big story on the night that Curt Schilling had his ankle sewn back together to pitch. Game seven will be interesting, but one has to wonder if either of these teams will have anything left in the tank come World Series time.