As the stakes ratcheted up during Game 6 of the World Series, controversy took over in the seventh inning.
With the Nationals trailing the Astros in the series, 3-2, and leading the game by the same margin, Washington shortstop Trea Turner hit an infield dribbler off of Houston pitcher Brad Peacock with a runner on first.
Turner sprinted down the first-base line as Peacock fielded the ball. Peacock’s throw to first base arrived at the same time Turner did and sailed past first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who lost his glove when Turner clipped it running through the base.
Turner called out for interference
The runners advanced to second and third, but umpire Sam Holbrook called Turner out for running inside the baseline on his way to first.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez immediately ran onto the field in protest, and umpires reviewed the play. After a delay of four minutes, umpires upheld the call on the field that Turner was out.
During the delay, Turner was seen at the top of the Nationals dugout screaming at the umpires.
“Joe Torre is right there with his head down trying not to look up,” Turner was heard saying on Fox cameras, referring to Major League Baseball's chief baseball officer.
Nationals go on to win, force Game 7
Play continued with Will Harris on the mound for the Astros, and Adam Eaton popped up for the second out of the inning. But then Anthony Rendon responded, sending a Harris pitch over the left centerfield wall to score Yan Gomes — who had remained on first — and himself to take a 5-2 lead and help stave off further controversy as the Nationals went on to a 7-2 win to force Game 7.
Turner was the first player to the top of dugout stairs with an emphatic celebration of the Rendon blast.
Dave Martinez ejected
During the seventh-inning stretch, a still-hot Martinez once again confronted umpires and had to be restrained by coach Chip Hale as Martinez was ejected.
During the 7th inning stretch, Nationals Manager Dave Martinez was visibly upset with the umpires and was ejected during the exchange. pic.twitter.com/AZ23MusrNN— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 30, 2019
Hale took over the Nationals dugout after Martinez’s ejection.
The Nationals reportedly called for the game to be played under protest, but Fox’s Tom Verducci reported that the protest was disallowed because judgment calls aren’t eligible for protest.
Torre responds to controversy
Torre addressed the controversy with Fox’s Ken Rosenthal after the game.
“He was called out because he ran — there’s a 45-foot restraining line where you’re supposed to run as a baserunner in between those lines,” Torre said. “He ran to first base — that wasn’t the call. The call was the fact that he interfered with Guriel trying to catch the ball. You notice the glove came off his hand. That’s when Sam Holbrook called him out for basically interference.”
Torrey then explained that the interference call wasn’t reviewable because it was a judgment call and that umpires went to review to “make sure everything they were telling (Martinez) was double checked.”
“Davey was really out of control for a bit when he was yelling at Sam Holbrook,” Torre continued. “They went to the headset just to make sure everything they were telling him was double checked. They went to the headset and they told him right back it’s a judgment call — he made the right call at first base — and that it was not protestable because it was a judgment call, and you can’t protest a judgment.”
MLB umpires have their say
The Major League Baseball Umpires Association tweeted out support of the call with an explanation that Turner was “not in the lane” when he stepped toward first base.
The Correct Call;— Major League Baseball Umpires Association (@MLBUA) October 30, 2019
The runner is only allowed to EXIT the lane to touch 1st base. Turner was NOT IN THE LANE when he stepped towards first BASE and interfered with Guriel so he was NOT afforded the protection the lane provides. #MLBUA #2019WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/CFR28t0xpb
That the Nationals went on to win the game deemed much of the controversy moot. The call would have loomed large had the Astros gone on to win Game 6 and the World Series.
But it still leaves a lot of questions for MLB to answer, which it attempted to do in the immediate aftermath of the game.
The decisive Game 7 will be played in Houston Wednesday night.
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