Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Something very unusual happened in the bottom of the 1st inning last night in Game 1 of the World Series; the umpires got together and corrected a blown call that one of them made. Red Sox fans remember the “Phantom Tag” play in the 1999 ALCS when Tim Tschida called Jose Offerman out, even though replays showed Chuck Knoblauch obviously missed him. How much do the Red Sox wish that their arguments resulted in Nomar getting that AB with a runner in scoring position down by a run? Or, if you’re a Cardinals fan, how much would you give to go back to Game 6 of the 1985 World Series and have Don Denkinger reverse his call on that George Orta play at first base? We cannot go back in time and fix these, so let’s just be happy that the umps got together and got last night’s gaffe correctly in the end.
Last night’s 1st inning situation: with 1 out and men on 1st and 2nd, David Ortiz hit a ground ball to Matt Carpenter at second base. He flipped the ball to Pete Kozma covering 2nd, and with Dustin Pedroia bearing down on him, the Cardinals’ shortstop had the ball tip off the end of his glove. Umpire Dana Demuth was less than 10 feet away and he signaled that Pedroia was out, saying that Carpenter lost control of the ball trying to transfer to his throwing hand attempting to complete the double play. Pedroia argued briefly, but being a seasoned baseball veteran, he knew he stood no chance of changing Demuth’s mind, so he jogged off the field.
When John Farrell came out of the dugout to argue, he later acknowledged that he wasn’t necessarily expecting the umpires to change the call. But, after Farrell spoke with crew chief John Hirschbeck, all of the umpires huddled and in a matter of minutes the call was reversed and Pedroia was called safe. Audio later showed Hirschbeck explaining to fuming Cardinals Manager, Mike Matheney, that all 5 of the other umpires on the field saw the play differently than Demuth’s call. With 5 umpires 100% certain that the call should be reversed, the decision was made to above all, get the call right.
Three pitches later, Mike Napoli laced a double into the gap in left center, 3 runs scored and the Red Sox were on their way to an 8-1 victory and a 1-0 Series lead (their 9th consecutive World Series game win). Boston took advantage of the Cardinals’ early game mistakes, a dropped pop up in front of pitcher’s mound and Kozma’s second error of the night led to the Red Sox scoring 2 more runs in the 2nd. Then, when St. Louis was on the verge of getting out of the 7th, David Freese allowed Pedroia to reach with 2 out on a throwing error. David Ortiz hit the 1st pitch Kevin Siegrist threw onto the roof of the Red Sox bullpen, and any hopes that the Cardinals had of a comeback were quickly dashed.
This whole article could have been about how Jon Lester was dominating again in a World Series game, holding the Cardinals scoreless through 7 2/3 innings. But, this year’s Boston Red Sox are all about taking advantage of every opportunity given to you, and last night was no different from what we have come to expect. A few more nights like that and the Sox will put the ultimate finish on their worst to first story, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet …