Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter spent much of his pre-game media briefing Saturday morning complaining about a video replay call he believed Major League Baseball had gotten wrong in Friday night’s loss to the Yankees. A couple hours later, Showalter watched as the Orioles were once again burned by video review, this time on the play that was the turning point in the Yankees’ 13-5 victory over Showalter’s Orioles Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees had just tied the score, 2-2, in the bottom of the third inning, on Starlin Castro’s RBI single to center that sent Didi Gregorius to third base with two outs. With the green light to steal, Castro took off for second base, and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters threw down to second. Immediately, Gregorius broke for home, diving in headfirst as shortstop J.J. Hardy threw home and Wieters caught the ball and reached back to tag him.
Home plate umpire and crew chief Ron Kulpa ruled Gregorius out, and the inning was over. But Gregorius wasn’t having it.
“I was shocked that [Kulpa] called me out, because I knew that I was in there,’’ Gregorius said. “I gave [manager Joe Girardi] a signal I thought I was safe, so we challenged it.’’
The replay showed by the YES Network showed Gregorius rolling onto his right side, to get his body and left arm out of the way, while he put his right hand down on the ground. It also showed that right hand touching the plate before Wieters tagged Gregorius in the midsection. After a two-minute, 8-second interval, the call was overturned, which meant the Yankees had the lead, 3-2, and the inning continued. Brian McCann then doubled to left to score Castro and the Yankees were ahead, 4-2. Gary Sanchez’ fourth-inning homer — his 11th of the season in just his 23rd game — made it 5-2 and the Yankees would hold on to the lead from there.
McCann said “an unbelievable slide’’ from Gregorius was the turning point of the game.
“Absolutely,’’ McCann said. “Momentum’s big. I mean, if they get that out, it’s a tie ballgame . . . We put two on after that, so it’s a big momentum swing.’’
Gregorius had also been involved in the controversial play Friday night that Showalter had been so upset about. In that one, Gregorius had been playing shortstop when Orioles first baseman Chris Davis singled to right and tried to take second base. Aaron Judge’s throw came in to Gregorius, who wheeled around to tag Davis, who was ruled out. The Orioles challenged the ruling, and despite the YES Network replays appearing to show Davis hitting the base before being tagged, the call was upheld.
Gregorius was asked what he saw on that play.
“What did I see? I mean, whatever I see, it doesn’t really matter, because they’re the one calling it,’’ he said with a wide grin. “I thought it was close. I think it could have gone either way.’’