Dodgers-Giants decision bizarre
mattingly’s visit(s) to mound lead to rules discussion
LOS ANGELES — Later, there was still widespread confusion. If anything, there was more confusion.
What exactly happened in the ninth inning of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night? More to the point, what should have happened?
In case you missed it, here’s a quick summary of what was visible to the eye: Jonathan Broxton entered the game with the Dodgers holding on to a 5-4 lead. The All-Star closer loaded the bases. That prompted a visit from hitting coach Don Mattingly, who was serving as the manager in place of Joe Torre, who had been ejected. Mattingly talked to Broxton and stepped off the mound, but he turned around when he was called by James Loney. Mattingly stepped back onto the mound.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy came out to speak to the umpires, pointing out that by returning to the mound after stepping onto the grass, Mattingly had paid a Broxton a second visit. The umpires agreed, removed Broxton from the game and essentially forced Mattingly to call on George Sherrill, who served up a two-run double to Andres Torres.
The Giants went on to win 7-5.
The bizarre sequence produced some equally bizarre explanations the next day.
Major League Baseball said the umpires made a mistake, pointing to Rule 8.06, which states that if a manager visits the same pitcher twice in the same inning with the same hitter at the plate after being warned that he can’t do so, the manager should be removed from the game. The rule goes on to say that the pitcher is required to pitch to that hitter until that hitter is retired or reaches base, but he will immediately be removed from the game afterward.
So Mattingly should have been ejected and Broxton should have been allowed to face Torres, right? No.
Because Mattingly could not have been warned about making another visit to the mound between the time that he stepped onto the grass and when Loney called to ask him where he should position himself, the part of the rule about the manager being removed from the game should not have applied, a league official said.
But Broxton should have been allowed to remain in game to face Torres.
Umpire crew chief Tim McClelland said he would abide by baseball’s ruling but stood by his crew’s decision to remove Broxton and not Mattingly.
“It’s a difference of opinion over a situation that happened that’s not covered in the rule book,” he said. “It’s a different situation than what’s covered in the rule book. The rule book says it’s a defiant manager.”
The rule book might imply that the rule applies to a defiant manager — the rule describes a manager who visits his pitcher a second time “after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound” — but never says so explicitly.