Replay bites A’s in extra-innings loss

If there was a running prank going on in major league baseball’s replay booth, the A’s got hit with in Saturday afternoon, along with a 5-4, 11-inning loss to Seattle.

During a pivotal moment in the seventh inning, shortstop Marcus Semien attempted to begin a double play at second base with his left foot for a force out of Austin Jackson before the relay to first.

The New York City replay crew got the call after Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon challenged that Semien didn’t have possession of the ball when the runner got to the bag.

It was clear that Semien did have possession, and that the runner wasn’t close to the bag when the young infielder threw to first.

But replays appeared to show Semien failed to actually touch second base, historically less than necessary under to baseball’s “neighborhood play,” where a force out is often credited despite a fielder not actually touching a bag, intended to prevent injuries.

After the game was over, the crew issued a statement that because the throw to Semien was errant, the play then didn’t fall under neighborhood play rules.

Manager Bob Melvin refused to directly address the play. Semien was also not made available for comment.

Second baseman Tyler Landendorf said he didn’t get the best look initially, but with new high definition scoreboard, got a better look:

“Even with the replay, you see a little daylight but you can’t really tell. That’s as close as it gets.”

Ballplayers are often instructed by the league and their respective clubs, to not publicly state whether they agreed with a call or not. For managers, fines by the league can also come into play.

The decision kept a Mariners rally alive and cost A’s starter Sonny Gray the win, after four strikeouts and two earned runs over 7-1/3 innings. Nelson Cruz would come up next and smash a three-run homer to give Seattle a 4-2 lead.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Oakland responded in the bottom of the inning, with new slugger Mark Canha getting aboard before being knocked in by a double from utility man Ben Zobrist to trim the lead to 4-3.

With two outs, third baseman Brett Lawrie sent the ball to left field, sending in Zobrist and knotting the score at four runs apiece.

There would be no more scoring until the 11th inning, when Seattle’s Brad Miller singled off reliever Fernando Abad, knocking in Logan Morrison for the 5-4 lead.

Fernando Rodney came in and worked a flawless half inning, retiring Oakland in order and delivering the A’s their first extra-innings loss of the year.

Some in Oakland’s clubhouse seemed to even be aware of the “neighborhood play” tradition, and replays, along with photos, show Jackson clearly off the base.

Gray said:

“It was definitely one of those games that was going to be a grind. I could tell that warming up in the bullpen. But I knew after the solo homer, if I could keep them right there, give us a chance to get back in it, we were eventually going to break through. And we did that in the seventh.”

He added:

“There were so many things that felt like they just didn’t go our way.”

With an updated explanation, or rather totally different one that came from the league office, the crew is cleared of a huge mistake that would obviously be scrutinized.

The A’s didn’t play the game under protest, though they could have. The last time the club did such a thing was August 29th of last year against the Angels.

A controversial obstruction call in the ninth inning, where Los Angeles shortstop Erick Aybar collided with Oakland pitcher Dan Otero at first base.

The crew ruled that Otero obstructed with Aybar, and he was ruled safe.

In this instance, it’s not likely a protest will be filed with the league office.

Notes

Outfielder Josh Reddick will return to the 25-man roster Sunday, while Tyler Landendorf will return to AAA Nashville to clear room. … Outfielder Craig Gentry could just as easily been sent down, the veteran is 0-for-14 to start the season and has shown a noticeable dropoff in defensive prowess. … Ben Zobrist continues to impress fans in Oakland, going 2-5 with one run and one RBI. Semien is also in that category, and has hit safely and driven in a run in five of his first six games.


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