It took Major League Baseball’s replay review committee in New York an eternity of 6 minutes 10 seconds Thursday night to decide whether Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis had blocked Zack Cozart’s path to the plate.
It took Marlins skipper Mike Redmond far less to lose his mind once a decision was reached.
When plate umpire Mike Winters signaled Cozart safe — reversing what was first ruled the last out of the eighth inning — Redmond went into a frenzy. He tossed his hat, ripped open his shirt and got himself ejected.
None of it, though, could save the Marlins. The Cincinnati Reds took advantage of rule 7.13 — created before the season and aimed at deterring dangerous collisions at the plate — to rally past the Marlins 3-1 in front of 18,056 at Marlins Park.
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After Cozart’s run tied the score at 1, Ryan Ludwick delivered what turned out to be the game-winner with a two-out, two-run single to center off Bryan Morris as the Marlins (53-55) lost for only the third time in their past 12 games.
Afterward, there was nothing but anger throughout the Marlins clubhouse.
“To look at [my players] in the face and say we lost the game on a technicality is [expletive],’’ Redmond said. “Absolute [expletive]. I’m so pissed. I played this game for so long. I’ve given this game everything I’ve had as a player and a manager. What a joke. What a [expletive] joke. That’s ridiculous.”
Reds manager Bryan Price — unsurprisingly — said he thought the umpires got the call right.
Major League Baseball released a statement saying they have begun to examine the Crew Chief Review and planned to discuss the situation further with the appropriate parties Friday.
That means little to the Marlins, though. Team president David Samson told reporters afterward the club could not appeal or protest the call.
“There’s absolutely nothing we can do,” Samson said. “All we’re going to do is try to win the next [three] games. The fact of the matter is everyone in baseball should be embarrassed by a call like that.”
As much as the Marlins might not agree with the call, they’ve only got themselves to blame for getting themselves in that situation. A pair of errors in the eighth led to the misery.
After pitcher Tom Koehler kept the Reds (54-54) scoreless for seven innings, Cozart opened the eighth with weak fly ball to short center field. Second baseman Jordany Valdespin looked like he was going to make the catch, but the ball squirted from his glove. Pinch-hitter Devin Mesoraco then ended Koehler’s night with a single to left.
Mike Dunn entered in relief and looked like he had plenty of time to field a Billy Hamilton bunt back to the mound. But he never got a good grip on the ball, and the play loaded the bases with nobody out.
Morris entered and struck out Kris Negron. Todd Frazier followed with a weak fly ball to Giancarlo Stanton in right field. Cozart tagged up from third base on the play, but was beaten by a good 10 feet on a perfect throw from Stanton.
The only problem: The folks in New York thought Mathis leaned into the runner’s pathway.
“You sit here and you think about it and you wonder what you could’ve done and the route you could’ve taken to catch the baseball,” Mathis said. “I could’ve made the play, short-hop myself by getting out of the way and coming back to tag him. But I’m not going to do that. You get him a lane as the play develops and then you see where the ball goes and you catch it and make a tag. That’s what I did. It’s disgusting to think that a game could be decided like that.”
The Marlins never recovered after the call. Stanton, who hit his 25th home run of the season off Johnny Cueto in the first inning to give Koehler an early 1-0 lead, struck out with runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth.
Aroldis Chapman then picked up his 24th save of the season in the ninth.
Although Cueto kept the Reds neck-and-neck with seven strong innings (he struck out nine and only gave up four hits and one walk), the Marlins had chances to extend their lead against Cueto after Stanton’s home run and couldn’t.
Casey McGehee was thrown out at the plate to end the first on a Garrett Jones single to center. And Chris Heisey made a diving catch in right field to rob Adeiny Hechavarria of what would have been an RBI double, ending the fourth.
Koehler, who wasn’t charged with an earned run, took the hard-luck loss to drop to 7-8.
“It’s an [expletive] ass rule — I’ll tell you that,” McGehee said. “It’s not baseball anymore. Next thing we know, we can put a line, like coed softball. We’ll just run off to the side, because you can’t have contact in coed softball.”