By all appearances, it was a strike-’em-out, throw-em-out double play.
Only it wasn’t.
The play that angered the Marlins was a missed call by third-base umpire Andy Fletcher in the first inning on Friday night that changed not only the complexion of that one inning but had a direct bearing on the outcome of the game.
The Marlins lost 6-2 to the Indians at Progressive Field.
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“This one is embarrassing,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the pivotal missed call, which TV replays confirmed. “It changed the whole game. It’s sickening. When I saw it, it really made me sick to my stomach.”
Andrew Cashner’s pitching line was not one to admire. It contained six earned runs, six hits and six walks in only five innings. Cashner didn’t exactly help himself.
And the Marlins had no answers for Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, who struck out 11 and blanked the Marlins through 7 1/3 innings. The Marlins didn’t score until Carrasco came out, with J.T. Realmuto delivering a two-run homer in the eighth off Jeff Manship.
But with a little help from Fletcher in the first, Cashner’s outing might not have turned out as badly as it did. And perhaps the game itself might have turned out differently as well.
With Carlos Santana going on Cashner’s 3-2 pitch, Jason Kipnis tried to check his swing. Santana was thrown out at second, and the Marlins felt Kipnis had gone around for strike three. Replays confirmed their belief.
But, on appeal, Fletcher said Kipnis checked his swing for ball four. And it all unraveled from there for Cashner and the Marlins.
“I didn’t realize it was as bad as it was until I saw the video,” Cashner said. “It’s pretty incredible. That’s one of the worst calls I’ve seen.”
Instead of having the bases empty with two outs, the Indians had two aboard with no outs, and before the inning was over, Cleveland would have three runs on the board, add another in the second and knock Cashner out after five.
Cashner threw 35 pitches in the first inning alone and didn’t record his first out until his 28th pitch.
“It not only cost us three runs, it probably cost us 20 pitches on our starter,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly was livid afterward.
“How can you miss that call?” he said. “I don’t know how you miss that. I don’t know that it’s missable. [Fletcher] obviously wasn’t watching. There’s no way if he’s watching he did not see that. It’s impossible.”
Mattingly said replays indicated that Kipnis’ bat was pointing to center field when he finally brought his bat to a stop, and noted that Kipnis began walking back to the dugout thinking he had struck out before being awarded first base.
“We’re trying to get in the playoffs,” Mattingly said. “But I guess these games don’t matter. They only matter to us. They don’t matter to them. They don’t care if they get them right or not. They don’t want to get the call right. They’re worrying about protecting themselves.”
Mattingly was also upset that Fletcher complained to third baseman Martin Prado during the game that the Marlins were visiting the mound too often and it was slowing the game down.
Marlins first-base coach Perry Hill was ejected by first-base umpire Mark Ripperger in the ninth inning, Mattingly said, for registering a complaint that the third-base umpire (Fletcher) was complaining about the Marlins and the pace of the game.
The Marlins never recovered after the first.
Carrasco dominated, scattering six hits and mowing down batters in twos and threes.
Other than Realmuto’s homer, about the only bright spot for the Marlins was 26-year-old rookie Destin Hood, who had a pair of hits in his major-league debut.
“They changed the whole game in a pennant race with one call,” Mattingly said.