Controversial call helps Giants, leaves Padres angry

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SAN FRANCISCO — When the bottom of the fifth inning ended on Wednesday night, left-hander Taylor Rogers emerged from the Giants bullpen and jogged to the edge of the infield, where umpire Jose Navas met him for the usual check of hands and glove.

They stood there for a minute, and then Rogers turned and retreated to the bullpen and continued to warm up.

It was an odd sequence, but it was part of a game-winning one.

Rogers had to go back because the Giants had challenged the third out of the inning, and when they won, Rogers entered with four runs to protect, not one. That was crucial for the Giants, who won 4-2, running their winning streak to 10 on a night when the frustration boiled over for the preseason NL West favorites in the other dugout.

Padres ace Yu Darvish had appeared to escape a jam in the fifth when Fernando Tatis Jr. came up with a 99 mph throw from right field to nail Blake Sabol at the plate. But the Giants challenged, arguing that catcher Gary Sanchez had blocked Sabol’s path. After a lengthy review, officials in New York agreed, giving the Giants a second run. They tacked on two more before Darvish got out of the inning.

After the third straight narrow loss in this series, San Diego Padres manager said the overturned call was “one of the worst calls I’ve seen this year.”

“There’s got to be some feel involved for something like that. It’s an awful call and had an impact on the game,” he said. “The baserunner is way down the line towards their dugout. At some point in time, you have to go get him. The throw took him up the line as well.”

Melvin appeared to have an argument on two fronts. MLB’s rulebook states that “blocking the path of the runner in a legitimate attempt to receive a throw is not considered a violation.” The Padres felt that Sanchez had been taken up the line by the throw, but the Giants countered that he could have fielded the ball without impeding Sabol.

In 2014, MLB added an addendum to the rule stating that “the runner may still be called out if he was clearly beaten by the throw.”

That part was up for interpretation, and Melvin said he didn’t receive any sort of explanation on what the replay umpires in New York saw.

In the other dugout, the Giants obviously felt differently. As it happened, their bench thought that Sanchez blocked the plate. Yo Miyamoto and Patrick Yount, who handle decisions in the video room, agreed. The successful challenge was the league-leading 16th of the season for the Giants.

“There wasn’t a clear lane to the plate,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “The rule as we understand it is that if the catcher’s left foot is on the outside of the line without the baseball, that he’s not providing a clear lane to the plate for the baserunner. That’s what we saw on video. That’s what it looked like in real-time, it seems like they got the call right (on replay) but that’s just our interpretation.”

When the ruling came down, Melvin immediately came out to argue and was ejected. Ironically, the call came a night after Bruce Bochy was ejected during a Rangers-White Sox game for arguing the exact same thing. Bochy went off after that game, saying he was “dumbfounded.”

“It’s absolutely one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen, and it was done by replay,” he said on Tuesday. “I just don’t get it. I don’t care how many times they’ll try to explain it. You can’t do that in that situation.”

The Giants perhaps benefited from their old manager’s misfortune, as they felt that MLB couldn’t call the play two different ways on back-to-back nights. Perhaps it’ll be revisited in the offseason, but this week, it has benefited the White Sox and Giants.

As they have done so often during their longest winning streak in 19 years, the Giants took advantage of the opening. Mike Yastrzemski and J.D. Davis hit back-to-back singles once Darvish returned to the mound, extending the lead to four.

“You never know where the game is going to go, but at that point of time it’s 1-0, Yu is out of the inning, and there aren’t three more runs on the board,” Melvin said.

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After coming back in the late innings twice earlier in the series, the Giants held on this time. Camilo Doval‘s 20th save got them to 10 games above .500, allowing them to throw another late-night party in the clubhouse as their opponent seethed down the hall.

“Obviously when you’re on a roll, good things happen,” Sabol said. “But in the beginning of the year we started off cold and it felt like everything was going against us. That’s just baseball.”

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