In last night’s game one of the World Series, umpires changed an out call at second base. Instead of a possible inning-ending double play, the Boston Red Sox went on to score three runs and eventually beat the St. Louis Cardinals.
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The St. Louis Cardinals hope to come back against the Boston Red Sox in game two of the World Series tonight. In game one, well, just about nothing went right with the Cardinals. NPR’s Mike Pesca joins us. He’s covering these games from Boston. Hey there, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hi.
CORNISH: So, in the first inning, there was this big mistaken call by the umpire at second base and then a reversal of that call. What happened?
PESCA: David Ortiz grounds to second, second baseman flips it to the shortstop. So that should have started a double play. In fact, the shortstop, Pete Kozma, just drops the ball. So what that means is that there should be the bases loaded. Unfortunately, Dana Demuth, the umpire, was not looking at the glove and the ball. He was looking at the feet, which is technically what umpires are supposed to do. They listen for the ball hitting the glove. And it did it hit the glove, but it trickled out.
So, Dana Demuth was the only person in the whole stadium who thought that there was an out on the play. Red Sox manager intervenes. There’s a big conference. And every other umpire – and Fox Broadcasting aired this audio of John Hirschbeck, the chief of the crew, saying, the five of us saw it and we’re a hundred percent certain that he should be safe.
And so the runner was ruled safe. This allowed the bases to be loaded. Next up, Mike Napoli hit a double. It totally changed the game. And it is kind of unprecedented to have umpires confer like that, eventually get the call right. But the process is not what we’re used to in Major League Baseball.
CORNISH: Would replay have solved that?
PESCA: You know, it’s interesting. I’ve heard people – because replay is coming next year. And there’s kind of a convoluted system. It’s – there will be an official in New York City looking at these replays, and then coaches or managers will have a certain amount of challenges. So I’ve seen everyone argue that this means that replay will be slow, this means that replay is unnecessary. This means that if this happened later in the game and the manager was out of challenges, maybe he wouldn’t be even able to ask for a reversal.
I don’t think it means any of that. I think next year, Major League Baseball is going to try a replay system and that’s going to try to get more calls right. I think, at the same time, umpires are making an effort to get the calls right among themselves. The presence of replay does not preclude umpires from occasionally reversing when one of their brethren totally blows a call.
CORNISH: So this is a rough start for St. Louis. Do you think the Cardinals will be able to put this behind them?
PESCA: You know, it’s interesting. I think that they’re certainly a resilient team and it has nothing to do with their mental makeup. Yes. As far as that goes, yes. But physically, there was a moment in the game where perhaps if Mike Matheny, the Cardinals’ manager, had intervened, he could have pulled his starter, his ace, Adam Wainwright, out after, say, the second inning, save his arm. You could possibly have gotten Adam Wainwright three more starts in this World Series.
I asked Matheny about that after the game and he says, well, he still had very few pitches. In fact, Wainwright had 95 pitches, which is not a tremendous amount, but it’s a real start. So I think maybe an early intervention would have helped them more. But Matheny also said, we’re not ruling anything out as far as Wainwright pitching on a little bit of rest.
CORNISH: OK. Mike, looking ahead, though, let’s preview tonight’s pitchers.
PESCA: Tonight’s pitchers, John Lackey is pitching for the Red Sox. He hasn’t been good for a while, but this year, he was really great. I can’t quite explain why. And no one could explain Michael Wacha. Well, he’s the 22-year-old phenom. He’s had three starts in the post-season for St. Louis. He’s won them all. He’s only allowed one earned run in the post-season. He only came up on May 30, but he’s been so phenomenal. So the Red Sox are now the ones who are going to have their hands full, I think.
CORNISH: NPR’s Mike Pesca joined us from member station WBUR in Boston. He’s covering the series there. Mike, thanks.
PESCA: You’re welcome.
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