The Arizona Diamondbacks still haven’t lost a series in 2018 (they split a four-gamer with the Dodgers last week, though), and prevailed again on Sunday when a controversial call helped them slip by the Astros in their rubber match.
In the bottom of the sixth, with a runner on first, A.J. Pollock smacked a triple into center field. The relay throw by Carlos Correa actually careened off Pollock’s leg, and skirted behind Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. After getting tangled up with Bregman while sliding into the base, Pollock got up and took off for home. He was called out at the plate, but the umpires quickly overturned the call by deciding that Bregman was guilty of obstruction at third. Pollock was awarded home and the D-Backs took a 2-1 lead on the play. They would go on to win 3-1.
Here’s the play:
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 6, 2018
And here’s what Astros manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game:
“I saw it as a horses**t rule and bad interpretation,” Hinch said, according to Justin Toscano of MLB.com. “You can call obstruction – you have a free pass as an umpire to call obstruction whenever there’s contact. The contact initiated by the baserunner doesn’t really do the defender any good. It looked like, to me, everything is happening right on the base. And when the ball got past, they both jump up and Pollock sticks his arm out and hits Bregman and gets a free run.
“But there’s nothing Bregman can do. What do you want him to do? Not go after the ball? You can’t just make yourself disappear. It’s a brutal way to lose a game.”
It’s hard to disagree with him. Pollock slides into the base where Bregman was waiting to catch the ball. There’s bound to be contact. When the ball deflects away, both players are doing the right thing — Pollock runs home and Bregman chases the loose ball. The contact was both minimal and unintentional. But obstruction is a judgement call by the umpires, not a black and white part of the rulebook.
The Diamondbacks are now 23-11 and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Rockies in the NL West. The Astros are doing fine themselves, despite the series loss in Arizona, with a 21-15 record that sits them just one game back of the Angels in the AL West.