The Boston Red Sox benefitted from a wacky carom late Sunday night to take control of their divisional series against the Tampa Bay Rays, two games to one. It was a freakish play but was appropriately adjudicated. A walk-off homer in the bottom of the 13th proved, once again, that baseball is a game of inches and even a full team of Billy Zanes cannot make all their own luck.
In the immediate aftermath, baseball fans and scholars alike were quick to say they'd never seen anything like this. And that's certainly true considering the stakes and Fenway Park's short right-field wall being one of, if not the, only place such a ricochet could end up over the outfield fence. There will be a swift movement to change the rules that may ultimately prove successful. In my mind, the play should carry the same consequences of intentionally throwing ball into the stands, which at that point would have allowed each runner to advance two bases from the point of the throw.
Rays manager Kevin Cash certainly would have loved if that was the procedure. It turns out, though, that both he and the world at large have seen a similar play only two years ago. That time, he went out to argue the opposite side and the same decision was reached by the umpiring crew, which benefitted Tampa Bay.
Here's the oddity that came up July 26, 2019 on a Freddy Galvis double down the left-field line in Toronto. Rays' Tommy Pham deflected the ball into the stands. The misplay ended up putting runners, like last night, on second and third. Tampa Bay would escape the inning without further damage and went on to win 3-1.
Now, this isn't some gotcha moment on Cash. As manager of a baseball team, you do whatever you can to argue for your side. That requires one to malleable. In both cases, it does seem like the offensive team was victimized by a mistake made by the other team. Which does not seem ideal.