Rays lose again on phantom home run

by Gary Shelton on June 7, 2017 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Archer pitched well, but he couldn't stop the losing./JEFFREY S. KING

Archer pitched well, but he couldn't stop the losing./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

At times at Tropicana Field, it feels as if the roof is closing in.

Other times, umpires just assume it is.

A strange call on the leadoff batter of Tuesday night's game helped the Chicago White Sox in a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the Rays' fourth straight loss, one in which they left 11 runners on base, and it must feel as if the sky – if not the roof – is falling.

Picture this: Yolmer Sanchez, the leadoff batter for the White Sox, led off the game with a routine fly to center

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Kiemaier misplayed a fly that was called a homer./jEFFREY S. KING

Kiemaier misplayed a fly that was called a homer./jEFFREY S. KING

field. Gold glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier misread the ball, however, the latest in a series of misplays he has had this season. He was still running toward right field when the ball hit behind him.

It was an odd sight, and the umpires assumed it must have hit a catwalk and deflected behind Kiermaier. But Kiermaier said he just lost the ball and it hit nothing. A replay held up the call.

“I just lost it the whole way,” Kiermaier said. “I had a read on it,

Tommy Hunter gave up a run in an inning of relief./JEFFREY S. KING

Tommy Hunter gave up a run in an inning of relief./JEFFREY S. KING

and then it just disappeared. I didn't' see it again until it landed. I was already in my stride. The ball was way behind me. At that point, I'm just trying to find it. It's tough sometimes trying to find a white ball in a white roof. Right there, I got exposed.

“I have no idea why it was called a homer. It was hit 30 feet off the ground. There's no way that was a homer and no way it came close to hitting anything. I was baffled by their decision-making. I guess they assumed there wasn't any way to prove it didn't not not hit anything. It was amazing. You'd think they would use their judgment. I would have much rather have it be an unfortunate  triple and see what arch could do there with zero outs rather than lead the game with a 'homer' like that. Ridiculous. I lost it and didn't pick it up in the roof.”

It's a tough call, of course, and the presence of the catwalks (arena baseball) don't help. There are too many balls that pinball around the roof, followed by confused umpires trying to figure out the right call.

This one appeared to hit nothing, however, but 15 feet behind Kiermaier. It was similar to last week's dive toward an uncatchable ball by Steven Souza.

“I saw a routine flay ball that didn't even get to the warning track,” said pitcher Chris Archer. “It was probably the shortest home run in major league history. There are a few things that are sad. I feel like every game is affected by the roof to some capacity, whether something is hit off of it or someone is losing it for a misplay.

Morrison, offense, unable to drive in runs./JEFFREY S. KING

Morrison, offense, unable to drive in runs./JEFFREY S. KING

“Then for us to have a rule to have replay and not get the call right and put the team behind the eight-ball is a bit ridiculous for me. I'm not a firm believer in Statcast, but it said the apex of the ball was 63 feet off the ground. We don't have anything in Tropicana Field that's 63 feet off the ground. The guys on the field do their best. We have replay for a reason.”

Cash said the call should not have been a home run, but a leadoff batter getting to third with no one out -- at a time the Rays wouldn't have played the infield in -- is likely to score. Of course, Archer is a strikeout pitcher and might have worked his way out of trouble.

The loss was made worse by the three defeats that came in front of it. Archer is supposed to be the stopper. That the team could not win on a decent night by Archer (two runs and five hits in seven innings) was disappointing.

Chicago had lost its last five by a combined score of 47-18.

The Rays continued to struggle at the plate. This time, it was a failure to get runners home. The Rays were one-for-seven with runners in scoring position.

“We got guys on,” said Logan Morrison, who took a called third strike with the bases loaded. “We just weren't able to get them in. When they pitched around Longo to get to me, I needed to come through and I didn't.”

Cash thought Archer was good enough.

“He gave us every opportunity to win,” Cash said. “He hung a breaking ball to (Avisail) Garcia, but when you give up two runs – and it probably should have been one on a unique play, you have every opportunity to win.”

The Rays are now 29-31, only one game ahead of where they were in 2016 en route to a 68-94 finish.

The Rays turn to rookie Jacob Faria, just called up, to face Mike Pelfrey in tonight's game.

Dickerson slides in safely with a double./JEFFREY S. KING

Dickerson slides in safely with a double./JEFFREY S. KING

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller June 7, 2017 at 6:38 am

Remember when manager’s used to play a game under protest after a really bad call by the umpires? Did replay wipe that out because this would have been the perfect situation to do that. And how did the replay official miss that? The replay we got on TV clearly showed the ball wasn’t high enough to hit anything. What a farce.

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Gary Shelton June 7, 2017 at 7:44 pm

I was at the game and just getting settled in my press box seat. The thing that made it look so funky was that a fine outfielder like Kiermaier played it so poorly that the umps must have thought it was deflected.

The thing I remember about the old replays is that no one ever seemed to win them. The umps looked at it at on replay, and they saw the same thing you did. But they still called it a home run. It’s silly. Now, you and I know that had nothing to do with the outcome: the Rays’ inability to drive in runners did. Still, you want calls right, or why have a replay system?

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