Phillies Fall Victim to Another Terrible Call by the Umpires Saturday Night Against Mets

MLB: AUG 16 Mets at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 16: Philadelphia Phillies Left Fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) hits a two run home run during the sixth inning of the Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies on August 16, 2020, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)
Andrew McCutchen was called out of the basepath for the Phillies as the umpires botch the worst call of the season since Alec Bohm.

The Phillies were in a position to score the game-winning run when another botched call cost the Phillies on Saturday night.

After a four-run first inning from Zack Wheeler, the Phillies found themselves down early. Andrew Knapp and Wheeler each managed RBI singles in the bottom of the second to cut into the Mets’ early lead. Then, Alec Bohm slapped an opposite-field two-run home run to tie the game up in the bottom of the sixth.

Then came the bottom of the seventh.

What Happened?

Phillies Were Gaining Momentum

Scott Kingery came in to pinch-hit for Wheeler to kick off the bottom of the seventh with a prompt strikeout. Andrew McCutchen then forced a full-count walk, putting a runner on first with one out.

Matt Joyce stepped up to the plate. Joyce, being a left-handed bat, had the defensive shift placed on him. Shortstop Francisco Lindor sitting up the middle on the right side of the diamond. On a 2-0 pitch, Joyce hits a dribbler between Lindor and second basemen, Jeff McNeil.

Lindor then cuts in front of McNeil to field the ball and attempts to catch up to McCutchen to tag the runner. McCutchen, meanwhile, is running in a straight line between first and second base. Lindor, who is still approximately ten feet away from McCutchen, quickly tries to close the gap before feigning a tag five feet away. McCutchen slides safely into second while Lindor attempts to throw out Joyce unsuccessfully at first.

Except that’s not what was called. McCutchen was called out being “out of the basepath” while Joyce was ruled out at first (though the first base umpire called him safe on the play).

Joe Girardi, days after being ejected in St. Louis, was not ejected for arguing the call. Bryce Harper, however, was ejected from the bench after shouting at the umpire.

Why the Call Was Wrong

Phillies Got the Short End of the Stick

Establishing the basepath can be a tricky call for umpires to make depending on the situation. This is not one of them. Might I direct your attention to the Major League Baseball Official Rulebook, Rule 5.09(b)(1). This states that a runner is out when:

He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely.

A base path is established at the moment a tag is attempted. When the tag is attempted (and throughout the entire play), McCutchen never deviates from his established base path.

“That was about as straight of a line as you could run… It’s a terrible call. The sad thing is that the call is not reviewable because it was a judgment… It cost us the game”

Joe Girardi post-game

Not to mention the fact that Joyce clearly beat the throw to first base.

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Lindor Made the Wrong Play

Given that the shift was on for Joyce, Lindor was on the right side of the diamond. This put him in a good position to ensure the ground ball was fielded. But second basemen Jeff McNeil was right there too. Lindor was closer to second base than McNeil. The smart play would have been for him would be to cover second base and wait for the throw from McNeil.

Lindor then doubles down on his poor choice by attempting to tag McCutchen. He should have went for the surefire out at first base. While Lindor is earning the big bucks, he showed just as high a baseball IQ as a hot-headed high schooler trying to make every play by himself.

Why the Call Cost the Phillies the Game

If the proper call was made, the Phillies would have had two runners on base with only one out in the seventh. With Rhys Hoskins stepping up to the plate. A single would have scored McCutchen, which would have given the Phillies a 5-4 lead. At that point, when Hector Neris comes in in the ninth inning, it is a save situation rather than a tie game.

Instead, the Phillies could not recovers as they dropped their game against the Mets 5-4.

Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire